While I was growing up, having cracked crab for dinner was always a special meal. My family and I would sit around the table, silent at times while we concentrated on getting the precious meat out of its shell, dipping our treasures in melted butter. And yes, maybe it has something to do with the melted butter, but that's still my favorite way to enjoy crab. In fact, it's kind of difficult for me to eat it any other way. I'm so used to eating it straight from the shell that making a pile of it and waiting to consume it just goes against my very nature.
So to go against my typical crab eating style, it would have to be for a darn good reason. And this soup just happened to be it. I absolutely adore creamy vegetable soups, and the idea of topping one with a pile of freshly cracked crab seemed too delicious to pass up. And I was right. The combination of the warm and creamy carrot soup with the coolness of the fresh crab is a wonderful combination. The addition of lemon juice adds a wonderful acidity that cuts through the sweetness of the carrots, and there's never anything wrong with a sprinkling of fresh chives.
Although I do admit to sampling a few delicious morsels of the crab during the shelling process, I was able to save enough for the soup. I think this would be a wonderful starter for a dinner party as it's the perfect kind of make ahead dish. The soup can be made the day before, and the crab can be cracked ahead of time as well. All that would be left would be to heat the soup up and sprinkle it with the delicious cracked crustacean.
The soup would also work for a light weeknight meal as it's a simple and quick recipe to make. The method is similar to most creamy vegetable soups. Sauté the veggies and aromatics in a little bit of olive oil.
Add your liquid to the veggies. The recipe called for water, but I added some chicken stock for a bit more richness. Feel free to substitute in as much or as little stock as you wish. Bring the mixture to a boil and then turn the heat down and simmer until the veggies are soft and have soaked up all the delicious flavors in the pot.
Blend the soup with a food processor or blender until smooth.
Top your soup with some delicious lemony crab and chopped chives and you've got an easy yet elegant soup that deserves the patience and restraint of not eating those delicious crab morsels right away.
Carrot Soup with Dungeness Crab
From Sunset January 2008
2 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 medium chopped onion
1 pound sliced carrots
1 large bay leaf (or 2 small)
2 tablespoons white rice
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
6 ounces shelled cooked Dungeness crab (from a 1 1/2 lb. crab)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon minced chives, plus chopped chives for garnishing
In a 5-qt. pot over medium-high heat, melt butter. Add onion, carrots, bay leaf, white rice, salt, and black pepper. Cook, stirring, until onions are light golden, about 6 minutes. Add 5 cups water and bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 25 minutes. Remove bay leaf.
Working in batches, purée soup in a blender until smooth. Return soup to pot, stir in lemon zest, and keep warm. In a small bowl, toss crab with lemon juice and minced chives. Put an equal mound of crab mixture in the center of each of 4 soup bowls, then ladle soup around crab. Garnish with chopped chives.