1. Food

An Old Timey She-Crab Soup

By

She-crab soup

She-crab soup

Hank Shaw
She-crab soup is an old-time specialty of the Atlantic South. Its key ingredient is the bright crimson roe of the blue-claw crab, also known as "coral." Add a good shellfish broth, some sherry and a little cream and you are in business. This soup is rich and light at the same time -- it's not thick and gloopy, but it's deeply satisfying. The better the broth, the better the roe, the better the she-crab soup. You can also use lobster in this. The recipe serves 6-8, depending on what else you are serving.

Prep Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • SHELLFISH BROTH
  • Shells from 6-8 crabs or 2-3 lobsters
  • 1 chopped fennel bulb
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 3 bay leaves
  • A 2-inch piece of chopped ginger
  • 1 bunch of parsley
  • 10-20 black peppercorns
  • 1 cup white wine
  • FOR THE SOUP
  • 1-2 cups crab or lobster meat
  • Crab or lobster roe (up to 1/2 cup)
  • 1 grated onion
  • 1/2 cup sherry, such as amontillado or manzanilla
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 T. flour
  • Salt
  • Tarragon or parsley to garnish

Preparation:

Make the Shellfish Stock. In a large pot (preferably a stockpot), add some oil or butter and heat over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion and fennel bulb and cook for a minute, stirring constantly.

Add the crab or lobster shells, and mix well. With a wooden spoon, crack and break the shells as best you can. Stir often and cook for about 8-10 minutes. The color of the shells will darken and the aroma will rise.

Add the white wine and cook it down for 2-3 minutes.

Add the ginger, peppercorns, parsley and bay leaves, then add enough water to cover everything by an inch or so.

Bring to a near boil -- do not let it come to a full boil! You want a strong simmer, at which point you turn the heat down to a bare simmer, where the surface is calmly shimmying, not bubbling. Keep it at this point for up to 90 minutes.

Turn off the heat. Using tongs or a skimmer, pick out all the big pieces in the stock. Strain the stock into another large pot through a fine-mesh sieve with cheescloth set into it. Set aside.

Make the Soup. Clean the stockpot and put in the butter. Heat over medium heat until melted and frothing, then add the flour and whisk it together until it's all incorporated. Make sure there are no lumps.

You have just made a roux. Cook this, stirring often, until it turns the color of coffee-with-cream. Add the sherry. It will spatter and bubble and immediately solidify. If it does get too hard, start adding your shellfish stock until it's a thick liquid.

Stir this over high heat for a few minutes. It is important to stir or you may develop lumps. Once it is smooth, add about a quart of your stock. You can add more if you'd like. Taste for seasoning. Add salt if it needs it.

Add the grated onion and stir well. Let this all simmer for at least 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, mash the roe in a bowl. Add the heavy cream a little at a time while you mash to make a pretty pink slurry. It will look like strawberry milk. It's not.

After 30 minutes have elapsed, add the crab or lobster meat and stir well. Add the cream-and-roe mixture and stir well. Do not let this boil. Simmer for another 5 minutes or so, then serve with a garnish of herbs. I like tarragon or parsley with this.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.