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Snow Crab Bisque

Crab bisque is a classic and luxurious recipe that is quite easy to make. Snow crab is the perfect crab choice because it has a softer shell, making it easier to crack and remove large pieces of meat. A rich homemade stock helps infuse the flavor throughout the dish and maximizes every bit of crab. Serve the bisque with some fresh crusty bread for dipping and a side salad for a light lunch or dinner meal.

Recipe Variations

Snow crab is called for in the recipe, though other types of crab such as Dungeness would work as well.

If you prefer to cook without alcohol, the white wine can be left out of the stock and replaced with an additional cup of stock in the bisque.

Equipment

Crab Shelling Tools: Shelling tools including crackers and forks are very helpful in removing the crab meat, although they are not essential. A pair of clean kitchen shears or a sharp chef’s knife can help cut through the snow crab legs, and a cocktail fork can be used to remove the meat from the hard-to-reach places. Though if you plan to shell even a few pounds of crab, an inexpensive crab shelling set is a wise investment.
Stockpot: A large stockpot that is 8-12 quarts is ideal for making the stock.
4-quart saucepan: A 4-quart stainless steel or enameled cast iron pot is the perfect size for making the bisque.
Blender: A blender is used to purée the bisque. An immersion blender also works.

What you Need

Snow crab: Snow crab meat is the star of the dish, and the shells are used to make a flavorful stock.
Butter: Butter is used to sauté the vegetables in both the stock and bisque. The sweet flavor of the butter compliments the crab.
Onion: Onion is used in the stock and as an aromatic base for the bisque.
Celery: Celery is used in the stock as well as the bisque and adds body and a savory flavor.
White wine: White wine is classically used in seafood dishes. It adds a depth of flavor to the stock and bisque, and acts to deglaze the pan.
Tomato paste: Tomato paste adds color and depth of flavor to the stock and the tomato element of the bisque.
Old Bay seasoning: Old bay is a traditional pairing with shellfish, and adds a touch of spice to the final dish.
Garlic: Fresh garlic is always the most flavorful!
All-purpose flour: Flour helps to thicken the bisque and give it a silky texture.
Heavy Cream: It wouldn’t be bisque without cream! Heavy cream helps thicken the bisque and gives it a rich and creamy texture.
Parsley: Parsley is an optional garnish but adds color and elevates the final presentation.

How to Make the Dish

Shell the crab. Break apart the crab legs at the knuckles and use a shellfish cracker to crack the legs. A clean pair of sharp kitchen shears can also be used to cut the soft side of the larger leg pieces. Pry open the shell and remove the meat. A shellfish fork or small cocktail fork can help remove the meat. Be careful as the edges of the shell can be sharp! Store the crab meat in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it.

Make the stock. In a large stockpot, sauté the vegetables and crab shells in the butter. Add the white wine, tomato paste, salt, and enough water to cover the shells and simmer into a rich stock. Strain into jars and discard the shells and vegetables.

Build the bisque. Heat the butter in a saucepot and sauté the vegetables and seasonings. Stir in the garlic and flour before deglazing with the wine and adding the tomato paste and prepared crab stock. Pureé the bisque and stir in the cream and crab meat before serving.

Additional Tips:

Any extra stock can be frozen in ice cube trays or mason jars and used in another soup recipe or as the cooking liquid for rice pilaf to add additional flavor.

It works well to shell the crab and make the stock the day before you would like to serve the bisque. If you are going to wait longer than a day in between the steps, it is best to freeze the crab meat and stock separately to maintain freshness.

When shelling the crab, the meat can be divided into small bits to stir into the bisque, and larger pieces to use as the garnish.


 

Prep time: 1 hour
Cook time: 90 minutes for the stock, 30 minutes for the bisque
Total Time: 3 hours
Servings: 4

For the Stock

  • 2 pounds snow crab, shelled and meat reserved for later
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon salt

 

  

For the Bisque

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 celery stalks, diced
  • 2 teaspoons old bay seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 4 cups homemade crab stock
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 12-16 ounces snow crab meat (from 2 pounds crab legs), divided
  • 2 tablespoons minced parsley (optional)

     

    1. Shell the crab and set the meat aside in the refrigerator. To make the stock, heat a large stockpot over medium heat and add the butter, onion, celery, and crab shells. Sauté for about 5 minutes while stirring occasionally until the onions turn translucent.
    2. Stir in the white wine, tomato paste, and salt. Add enough filtered water to cover the shells and vegetables by at least ½ inch.
    3. Simmer for 1-2 hours or until the stock has visibly reduced and turned a deep red color.
    4. Carefully strain the stock, pour into mason jars, and discard the shells and vegetables. Use immediately or allow the stock to cool before storing it in the refrigerator or freezer for later use.
    5. When you are ready to make the bisque, heat a heavy bottom 4-quart pot over medium heat and add the butter. When the butter melts, add the onion, celery, old bay, and salt and sauté for about 5 minutes or until the onions turn translucent.
    6. Add the garlic and sauté for another 30 seconds or until fragrant. Stir in the flour and continue to cook for another 3 minutes until a paste is formed.
    7. Add the white wine and tomato paste and stir to combine. Allow the wine to reduce by half. Stir in the crab stock and simmer until the onions and celery are tender, and the broth begins to thicken, about 10 minutes.
    8. Carefully transfer the bisque mixture to a blender and blend on high for 45 seconds or until completely smooth and creamy. Make sure the blender lid is vented to allow steam to escape while blending.
    9. Return the bisque to the pot and stir in the heavy cream and half of the crab meat. Turn the heat to medium and cook until the bisque is warmed through.
    10. Transfer the bisque to serving bowls and garnish with the remaining crab and mined parsley and serve immediately. 

     

    AUTHOR PROFILE

    Marisa Kerkvliet of Lemon Thyme Kitchen is a freelance recipe developer and food photographer with a Master’s degree in Nutrition. She was raised on her family’s farm in Northwest Washington and her appreciation for good food developed at a very early age. She is passionate about creating recipes and beautiful imagery that highlight high-quality seasonal ingredients. Marisa loves all types of seafood, but her favorites are salmon and scallops!

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