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Ralph Brennan's New Orleans Crab Bisque with Cauliflower and Brie

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 1/2 cups coarsely chopped onions
  • 1/2 cup coarsely sliced celery
  • 4 1/2 cups (4 ounces) 1 1/4-inch cubes of French bread with crust on
  • 5 1/2 cups crab stock, divided
  • 1 head cauliflower (about 2 1/4 pounds), cored and cut into florets about 2 inches long and 2 inches wide at the fullest part
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons packed chopped parsley
  • 4 ounces Brie, rim trimmed, cheese cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 8 ounces crab claw meat, picked through
  • 1 pound jumbo lump crabmeat, for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons finely sliced chives, for garnish
 
 

Method

In a heavy 6-quart saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat.    Add the garlic and cook just until it starts to color, about one minute, stirring constantly.  Add the onions and celery and cook until the vegetables are very soft and just starting to brown, about seven minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the bread to the pan and cook for one minute.  Stir in 1 cup crab stock and cook until the bread cubes are pasty and pick up all the flavors in the pan, about one minute, stirring constantly.  Gradually add 4 1/2 cups more of crab stock, stirring well.  Stir in the cauliflower, kosher salt and pepper.

Bring the soup to a rolling boil, then reduce heat and slowly simmer until cauliflower is tender and bread is mushy, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally and skimming as you would a stock.  Remove from heat, and while still hot, process the soup in a blender (in batches if necessary) to a smooth puree.  Blend in the cream, then the thyme and parsley.

Return the soup to the same saucepan, and bring to a simmer over high heat.  Stir in the cheese.  Reduce the heat and slowly simmer until all the cheese cubes melt, six to seven minutes, stirring and scraping the pan bottom almost constantly so the soup doesn't scorch.  Add the crab claw meat, stirring well.  Continue slowly simmering about two minutes more, scraping pan bottom as needed.  Remove from heat and serve immediately.

Serves: 12 appetizer servings or 6 main-dish servings.

Serving suggestions: If this is a main course, allow 1 1/2 cups of soup in each heated soup bowl.  Garnish the center of each serving with a portion (about 1/2 cup loosely packed) of jumbo lump crabmeat and 1 teaspoon chives.  If this is an appetizer, serve half the amount in heated cups.

Reprinted with permission from ©Ralph O. Brennan, Ralph Brennan's New Orleans Seafood Cookbook, published  by Vissi D'Arte Books

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