- August 2004
- Serves 4
- Hands on time 1 hour, plus 2 hours cooking time
Could there be a more classic French soup? This is a delicious, rich, crab soup recipe, flavoured with Pernod or brandy (your choice), fennel, saffron and cooked crab.
We’ll show you how to prepare your cooked crab in our video, below, too. And, if you have prawns to hand, you could try our prawn bisque instead.
- 7g (1g saturated)
- 13g (9.5g sugars)
- 2 tbsp light olive oil
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 2 celery sticks, chopped
- ½ tsp fennel seeds
- Remains of a picked cooked crab, dead man’s fingers and stomach sac discarded and shell broken up (see our how-to video below)
- 4 tbsp aniseed-flavoured spirit, such as Pernod or brandy
- 2 tomatoes or 1 tbsp tomato purée
- Pinch of saffron threads
- Juice of 1 orange, plus a couple of strips of zest
- 4 tbsp double cream or crème fraîche (optional)
- Croûtons, aïoli (garlic mayonnaise) and cayenne pepper, to serve (optional)
- Heat the olive oil in a very large, high-sided pan and add the onions, garlic, carrots and celery. Add 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and the fennel seeds, then reduce the heat. Cover and allow the vegetables to sweat for a good 10-15 minutes.
- When the vegetables have begun to tenderise, add the broken crab shell and turn up the heat. Add the Pernod or brandy and carefully ignite. When the flames have died down, add the tomatoes, saffron, orange zest and juice and 1.5 litres water. Bring the soup to a simmer and cook for 2 hours.
- Strain the soup (now a stock) into a large heatproof container, removing any really hard, big bits of shell from the colander – particularly the main piece of shell and the claws. Put what’s left back into the pan and, using the end of a rolling pin, smash the remaining meat and shell up until it is as small as you can get it. (If you have a Mouli food mill, you can use it to grind the shells. A food processor is not recommended.) Using a ladleful of the stock, pass the smashed shell and bits of vegetable through a sieve to remove any sharp, broken bits. Add the murky purée that’s left to the stock. Season to taste. You can enrich the soup with double cream or crème fraîche, if you like. Serve with croûtons, aïoli and sprinkle with a pinch of cayenne pepper.
Whatever you make with a whole crab, never forget that the pile of debris that’s left can be turned into one of the best soups ever. This recipe works just as well using prawn, lobster or langoustine shells.
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