This is a wonderfully simple soup to make for the holidays, Feast of Seven Fishes, parties, etc. Too many bisques require cooking the crab or lobster, crushing the shell, cooking for several hours, grinding in a food processor and then sieving the resulting mess. Yes, it tastes wonderful, but my bisque is much easier to make. If you can get fresh or frozen crab, do so. Don’t use imitation crab. You could also substitute frozen lobster. Substitute ½-1 cup of Chardonnay for the stock. You can make fish stock from fish bones, heads and skins if you want. Don’t chop raw vegetables in a food processor, as they will be chopped too small for the immersion blender to purée them. And of course, the heavy cream is the finale. Use unsweetened Asian coconut milk instead of cream if you are lactose intolerant. The dish will not be as rich, but still very good. This is easily made a day in advance, and can easily be multiplied up for a large party.
Makes about 6 portions (6 cups).
- ½ stick (2 oz.) butter or olive oil (butter is richer flavored)
- 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
- 2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
- 2 ribs or stalks of celery, washed, quartered length-wise and cut into ½" pieces
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
- 2 cups water
- 1 8 oz. can gluten-free Hunts no salt tomato sauce
- 1 tsp. gluten-free chicken stock concentrate
- 1 Tbsp. gluten-free tomato ketchup (I use Heinz)
- ½ tsp. dry thyme, 1 bay leaf and fresh parsley stalks, put in a coffee filter and tie shut
- Freshly ground pepper
- 1 cup heavy cream, light cream or Asian style coconut milk (I use Chaokoh or Arroy-D coconut cream)
- Rind of ¼ lemon, grated
- 2 Tbsp. sherry (I use Taylor's Golden Sherry)
- ⅓ lb. cooked shrimp, with shells removed. I used 100-150 cooked salad shrimp. Count about 50 shrimp and remove tails; they should have the rest of the shells removed. If you can get raw, shelled shrimp or tiny, cooked shrimp, do so. Small whole shrimp will visually look better. Raw shrimp will give more flavor to the soup, but you will probably have to buy them with shells still on. You can also buy a 10 oz. ring of cooked shrimp with cocktail sauce (only about 4-5 oz. without cocktail sauce and tails), since the shrimp tend to be vacuum packed and don’t develop freezer burn.
- 2 6 oz. cans of decent crab, well drained (I used 2 6 oz. cans Chicken of the Sea) or 6-8 oz. fresh or frozen crab, thawed
- Dash of fresh grated nutmeg
- Dash of cayenne pepper if you like a bite to your soup
- Fresh, chopped parsley to garnish
- 1 Tbsp. gluten-free cornstarch mixed with 2 Tbsp. cold water
- Melt butter in a 3 quart non-stick pan. Add onions, garlic, carrot and celery. Cook, covered over a low heat, for about 10 minutes until softening. This is known as sweating the vegetables and allows more flavor to develop rather than just cooking them immediately in stock.
- Add the water, tomato sauce, stock concentrate, tomato ketchup, coffee filter of herbs and freshly ground pepper. Bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer and cook covered for about 20-30 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
- Remove herb packet and then use an immersion blender and purée the vegetable and stock mix directly in the pan.
- Add the lemon rind, nutmeg, cayenne if desired, cream and cornstarch mix.
- Add sherry and bring back to just under a boil, simmer for 2 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning. Add thawed shrimp, drained crab and simmer for 1 minute.
- Turn off heat, add parsley and let sit for a few minutes. You don’t want to boil any soup with a milk mix added as it can break up. Too much heat will also toughen the shrimp and prevent you appreciating the flavor of the soup.