I would never order a soup in a restaurant. Maybe that’s a bit extreme, but it’d have to have some pretty exciting ingredients to grab my attention. But soups are always popular at the bistro, more so with men than women, so there is usually one on the menu.
The ‘cream of’ bit here refers to the method, rather than being made with buckets of cream. I do however finish the dish with a cream garnish, in this case a brandy cream which has been stiffly whipped.
If you can only get white crab meat I wouldn’t bother with this recipe, it’d be like making an omelette with only the whites of the egg – the best bit is missing. Likewise if you haven’t got a food processor or decent blender, give this one a miss.
300g cooked peeled prawns (straight from the freezer if fine)
75g salted butter
150g chopped onion (roughly 1 average tennis ball size, or preferably 3 banana shallots)
2 or 3 sticks of celery chopped
2 or 3 long sprigs of tarragon
1 dried bay leaf
1 fat clove of garlic, crushed
½ tea of smoked paprika
½ mustard powder
1 pot of mixed fresh crab meat (see footnote) separated into white and brown.
500 ml of fish stock (but you may not need all of it)
Here we go, eyes down, look in:
Melt the butter in a large pan over a gentle heat (on a scale of 1 – 10, around about 3)
Add the onion, celery and garlic and sweat it gently without it taking on any colour until its soft, add the tarragon and bay leaf and then add the prawns. If you’ve added the prawns from frozen they’ll start to melt and create a lot of liquid, which is fine, just keep them simmering gently until they’ve defrosted.
When most of the excess liquid has evaporated, add the brown crabmeat, mustard powder and paprika, stir to mix evenly then add the brandy and let that evaporate too.
Now add just half the fish stock and let it simmer very gently, partially covered with a lid, for 20 minutes.
Remove the bay leaf and the sprig of tarragon before pouring into the food processor. Let it do its thing for a good 5 minutes, you may need to and/or want to add more stock to get the desired consistency; my preference would be something similar to the thickness of double cream.
Taste for seasoning, adding any extra a little at a time - blitz then taste, blitz then taste….and always, always, with a clean spoon each time!
Don’t be too hasty to stop the food processor, the longer it runs the smoother the soup you’ll have. Leave it running for an extra couple of minutes, go and wash up or something, wipe down the walls, or the fridge door handle – how long’s it been since you’ve done that?
Add the white crab meat to the soup prior to serving, once you're happy with the consistency.
The footnote. A pot of mixed crab from my local fishmonger is roughly 100g/100g white and brown.