Bisques have always intimidated me a bit. They can be time-consuming affairs, especially if you make them from scratch. But they can be ridiculously easy too! And the “easy” in this easy crab bisque recipe is all about having a pre-made seafood broth.
This is why I’m a big proponent of making homemade broths and stocks in large batches.
This past winter I made a large amount of lobster broth and froze about 6 quarts of it. When I found myself with a bunch of leftover crab meat recently (from a family crab cake dinner), I realized I could thaw the broth and make an easy crab bisque recipe.
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Of course, it’s ideal to use a crab stock for a crab bisque, but other shellfish broths are very interchangeable and lobster broth works great too.
And if for some reason you do find yourself with a bunch of live crabs or lobsters, you can certainly make a nice broth from the leftover shells. It’s not hard at all. It just takes a little more time and ingredients. You can check out my post, how to make a lobster broth, for some good guidelines.
I’m guessing that 99% of you reading this post will not have a homemade seafood broth on hand. No worries! Check out my post on the best store-bought seafood stock for a review of the best options.
Bar Harbor has a new lobster juice which I’ve seen in some health food stores and even conventional grocery stores.
Another choice would be their canned seafood stock which is a blend of clam, fish, and lobster stocks.
Either would be good to use in the recipe though I think the seafood stock would be a slightly better fit.
Your second option would be to use a clam broth in place of a seafood broth. It’s not a perfect fit but its strong briny flavor is a better option than just using water.
Bar Harbor also has a good quality bottled clam juice.
The first is the thickener. Many bisque recipes use a roux of flour and butter but I much prefer using white rice. I find it easier to get the right consistency. You’ll add the rice with the broth, cook it until tender and then blend everything together. Its neutral flavor won’t compete or detract in any way from the other flavors. It gives the soup a wonderful grainy texture that is characteristic of many bisques. Also, using white rice makes this a gluten-free recipe!
An immersion blender is used for pureeing the soup. It will save you SO. MUCH. TIME.
If you don’t have an immersion blender, please get one NOW! It’ll come in handy when you make other blended soups in the future.
Here’s the one I use by Cuisinart, which is basic and affordable:
Find this immersion blender here.
Alternatively, you can use a regular blender for pureeing the bisque. Beyond taking more time, it’s also a lot more messy and even potentially dangerous. You’ll have to transfer the hot soup from the stockpot to the blender in batches and then back to the stovetop again. Make sure to hold the blender top down firmly to prevent burning yourself with splattering hot soup. Better yet, just get an immersion blender!
It is quickly becoming my new favorite herb, especially for seafood dishes. It has an anise-like flavor and works beautifully in bisques. If for whatever reason you can’t get fresh tarragon, try other fresh herbs like thyme, parsley, or oregano.
Yes, this recipe is included in my new cookbook, New England Soups from the Sea! It includes 80 recipes total and features 9 seafood bisque recipes!
This crab bisque recipe only takes about a half hour from start to finish (once you have your broth). It’s really only 4 steps – 1. saute onions in oil 2. add broth, wine, rice and tomato paste 3. Add 1/2 of crabmeat and blend and 4. add cream, other 1/2 of crabmeat and tarragon and stir together. That’s it!
Craig Fear is the creator of Fearless Eating and the author of three books, The 30-Day Heartburn Solution, Fearless Broths and Soups and The Thai Soup Secret. After years helping clients with digestive issues, Craig decided to pursue writing full-time. He intends to write many more books on broths and soups from around the world! Click here to learn more about Craig.
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