Cornish Crab Bisque makes for a warm and wonderful Sunday night family dinner!
2 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil, plus a little to serve
1 onion, chopped
1 fennel bulb, fronds picked and reserved, bulb chopped
1 carrot, chopped
2 bay leaf
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tbsp tomato purée
200g crabmeat (half brown meat, half white meat) or 1 medium whole crab
Pinch of saffron
3 tbsp brandy
1l good-quality fish stock (or make your own if using a whole crab – see tip, below)
100ml double cream
Zest 1 lemon, plus a squeeze of juice
2 slices white bread, crusts removed, cut into croutons
Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large saucepan, add the onion, fennel, carrot and bay leaves with a pinch of salt and cook for 10 mins until really tender. Add the garlic and cook for 1 min more, then stir in the tomato purée for another 1 min. Add the brown crabmeat, saffron, brandy and some pepper, stirring until the brandy has bubbled away. Add the stock and stir until smooth. Cover with a lid and simmer for 15-20 mins or until the vegetables are soft. Using a hand blender, blitz the soup until smooth. Pass the soup through a sieve back into a clean saucepan, making sure you push through as much liquid as possible. Add the cream and simmer for another 5 mins – the soup should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Add a few drops of lemon juice, taste and season or add more lemon if necessary, then chill until ready to serve. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Toss the croutons with the remaining oil, the lemon zest and some black pepper on a baking tray. Bake for 10 mins, tossing halfway through, until crisp and golden. Leave to cool, then store in a plastic container until ready to serve. The soup and croutons can be made up to 1 day ahead. To serve, reheat the soup and divide between shallow soup bowls. Spoon a mound of white crabmeat into the centre of each bowl, then drizzle with a little oil and add a few of the reserved fennel fronds. Float a few croutons on top and serve with a little extra black pepper, if you like.