Sunday, December 19, 2010

Crab Bisque

Some occasions just call for a decadent and luxurious opening course and Christmas is one of those times. I first had this soup (or something like it) at the wedding of my dear friends Karin and Lynn. The soup they served was one of those "food moments" you know you will always remember. The soup is creamy and rich, but not fishy or over-seasoned with distracting flavors; it tastes like what it is: crab and cream.

After Karin and Lynn's wedding I spent months trying to find a recipe similar to what I had at their reception, but with not much luck. Finally I stumbled upon a Paula Dean recipe called The Lady & Sons Crab Stew from her book The Lady & Sons Too!. This recipe was the closest I'd had to that magical crab soup at the wedding.

After several iterations of making this recipe, I made several changes to the recipe and I think it is very close to the original. It is a family favorite at the holidays and is extremely easy. Best of all, it can be made up to a week in advance (without the crab) and kept in the refrigerator, then just reheat, put the crab in the bottom of a soup bowl and ladle the hot soup over. Voila! Happiness in a bowl!

Crab Bisque
Serves 8-10

4 Tbsp unsalted butter
4 Tbsp all purpose flour
1 Tbsp minced garlic
3 cups heavy cream
2 cups fish stock
1/4 cup sherry
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp Old Bay seasoning
1 tsp salt
One 8 oz. bottle clam juice

1 pound cleaned lump crab meat

In a medium-sized saucepan, melt butter over medium high heat. Add flour and garlic and stir to blend. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Add 2 cups cream and whisk to blend with the flour mixture. Add remainng cream, fish stock, sherry, white pepper, Old Bay seasoning, salt and clam juice. Cook over medium heat for 20-30 minutes stirring occasionally until hot and soup is thickened. Portion crab meat into individual serving bowls, ladle hot broth over crab, garnish with snipped chives of chopped parsley and serve.

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