Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Rosie Makes Crab Soup.

Normally, I don't think of May as being "soup weather," but goshgolly, it's cold.  And by "cold" I mean it's in the 60s here.  So I want soup.  In particular, I want a crab soup.

Now here's the thing about crab soup.  Restaurants will have it on the menu during the winter.  And during the winter, crab is not in season.  And I don't want out-of-season crab.  When crab is in season, it's generally hot outside and I'm not in the mood for soup when it's hot.  'tis a quandary, 'tis.  Today, however, I have the best of both worlds - I have cold weather (Yeah, I know.  Cold is relative.) and crabs are in season.  To quote noted food writer, Clementine Paddleford, "The day has the color and the sound of winter.  Thoughts turn to chowder... chowder breathes reassurance.  It steams consolation."
 Yes.  I'll be having crab soup today.

I bought a pound of crab meat at Billy's Seafood and I'm using half of it for the soup and half for crab cakes.  Don't want any leftovers.

Rosie's Crab Soup
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped onion
2 TB butter
2 TB flour
1/3 cup shrimp stock
1/2 cup vegetable stock 
1/2 cup skim milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sherry
1/2 pound crab meat, picked
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
chopped chives/parsley/red sweet bell pepper

In a medium sauce pan, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter over medium heat.  Add the celery and onion and cook, stirring, for about a minute.  Add the other tablespoon of butter and melt, then add in the flour, stirring and cooking another minute, to get the raw taste out of the flour.  Turn heat to low. Slowly pour in the shrimp stock, stirring, to let thicken.  Then stir in the vegetable stock, skim milk, and cream.  Stir and cook until mixture thickens.  Pour in the sherry.  Add in the crab meat and heat through.  Season to taste.  Ladle into bowls and top with chives, parsley, and chopped red pepper.  Add a few oyster crackers, if desired.

For the how-to's:
Finely chop the celery, onion, and red bell pepper.

Melt a tablespoon of butter and cook the celery and onion.

Add in the remaining butter, melt, then sprinkle in the flour and cook, stirring.

Cook the flour to remove the raw taste.

Slowly add in some homemade shrimp stock.
I always have shrimp stock in the freezer.
We buy shrimp in bulk, de-head 'em, shell 'em, size 'em, then freeze 'em.
Take the shells (and heads if you're not squeamish), sauté in some oil over medium heat, add in a bunch of aromatics - onions, carrots, celery, garlic, peppercorns, thyme, and bay leaves - add water to cover, some salt, and simmer for about 45 minutes.  Drain off liquid, discard solids, and freeze the stock in pint containers.

If you don't have shrimp stock, just add more of the vegetable stock.  I happen to like the extra flavor boost that comes from using shrimp stock.

Let it thicken up.
Add in the vegetable stock, stirring over low heat.

Add in the skim milk, or whatever milk you have.  
I always have skim milk and cream on hand, so that's what I use, but you could use 1%, 2%, or whole.
Add in the cream for the richness.
Stir in the sherry for the goodness.

When you have the base as thick as you want it, add in the picked-over crab meat and heat through.
Season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.

Now here's a Rosie Tip for you in case you want your base a bit thicker:  Use beurre manié.  That means "kneaded butter."  Simply rub equal amounts of flour and butter together to form a paste, say 2 tablespoons of each.  When the flour is fully incorporated into the butter, add a small ball of the beurre manié (maybe 1/2 tablespoon at a time) to your soup.  Stir over low heat and let the beurre manié melt and thicken the soup.  If it needs more thickening (It's a matter of personal preference.) add in more of the beurre manié.  Using beurre manié allows the butter to melt directly into the soup, evenly dispersing the flour particles.  If you just sprinkled flour into the soup, you'd get clumps and one never wants clumps.  This way, you get a lovely velvety texture with no clumps.  Any leftover beurre manié can be frozen for later use.

Ladle into bowls and top with chopped parsley and chives and red pepper.
And I like the crunch of oyster crackers.


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