Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Crab Bisque

I have been meaning to post this recipe for a while, but life and work just tends to get in the way.  A few weeks back, we took a little day trip to Annapolis, Maryland to explore a bit.  We loved it there.  One of the best things about living in the DC area is all of the destinations that are within an hour drive from us. 

While there, we found our way to Cantler's Riverside Inn for a good old Maryland crab-fest.  It was a very primal experience.  Butcher paper covered our picnic table and we just went to town on the crabs with a mallet and a side of melted butter.

Well, our eyes were bigger than our stomachs.  We ordered a dozen crabs and only ate six, so I decided to whip up a crab bisque with the leftovers. 

I simply adore crab bisque.  In my extensive history or ordering this soup, I have had some duds. Lack of flavor.  Too thin..  Not enough crab, I have also had some gems.  Perfectly crabby.  Thick enough and creamy.  Large chunks of lump crab.  And this recipe is one of those gems.  All of the aromatics create a complex yet delicious flavor in this bisque.  

Even of you don't have leftover Marylend crabs, get some legs from the store and use those to pick the meat and boil the shells.  You will get the same effect and really create a beautiful soup!  

I just realized that around this time last year, I posted the recipe for the Perfect Crab Cakes.  I guess I subconsciously migrate towards crab dishes around this time of the year!  

Crab Bisque
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 stalks of celery, roughly chopped
4 carrots, roughly chopped
2 onions, roughly chopped
5 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup of cognac
1/2 cup flour
2 tablespoons tomato paste
4 cups seafood stock
3 cups heavy cream
2 cups milk
shells from crabs (if applicable)
2 taeasoons whole peppercorns
4 bay leaves
4 small slices of orange peels
6 sprigs of thyme
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup of lump crab meat

In a large stock pot, melt butter in with the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the celery, carrots, onions and garlic.  Cook for about 5 minutes until soft.  Add the cognac to deglaze the pan.  Next, add the flour and stir to coat the vegetables.  Add the tomato paste and again, stir to coat the vegetables. 

Whisk in the seafood stock and turn heat up to medium high.  Add the cream, milk, crab shells, peppercorns, bay leaves, orange peels, thyme and salt.  Bring soup up to a low boil and then reduce heat to a simmer.  Cook the bisque over medium low heat, uncovered, for about 20-30 minutes.  This will allow all of the flavors to marry.  

Once soup has simmered, remove large chunks of veggies and shells from the pot and then pour soup through a find mesh sieve.  Return the strained broth back to the pan. Add the lump crab meat and garnish with freshly chopped chives.  


  1. I just saw this while looking for a Maryland crab bisque recipe. I had a half dozen left over Maryland steamed crabs.

    Over the last 10-15yrs, I've made crab soup many many times. I typically start by boiling the already seasoned steamed back shells to make the broth then discard them add vegetable soup and some more veggies. When done, I break the remaining crabs in half (sans devil & guts), crack the claws and put them in the soup.

    It's good, but not too interesting. This time I wanted to make a bisque but none of the recipes I found were all that interesting until I found yours.

    I removed the backs which I put back in the pot and added the already seasoned crabs in the pot too. After extracting as much flavor from the shells and crabs, I pulled out the crabs, discarded the backs & drained the broth.

    I then picked the crabs and the claws for meat which yielded about 16-20oz of meat. (They were jumbos.)

    Now I'm ready to make the bisque.

    Here's my plan,
    Saute onions, carrots & garlic till soft. Puree with immersion blender & add to broth;
    Add some tomato paste;
    Make a dark roux & add to broth;
    Add milk & heavy cream to broth;
    Add sherry or cognac
    Add back the picked crab meat

    I know it doesn't sound like I'm using your recipe, but you inspired my thinking.



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