New Year's Eve at Home: Whiskey Crab Soup

December 31, 2013

It's New Year's Eve and some of us (about 20% actually) will avoid the crowds and stay hunkered down in the warmth of our homes. What better way to ring in the new year than with a delicious meal. This whiskey crab soup is one of my all-time favorite recipes, a rich and creamy blend of crab, cream, sherry, whiskey and a fireworks-worthy stock. It's the wildly popular creation of Chandler's Crabhouse, a beautiful restaurant perched dockside on Lake Union here in Seattle. The original recipe uses three types of crab - Dungeness, King and Soft Shell - though for simplicity we're including only two in our version. Go for all three types or only one, depending on its availability. This is the most delicious crab soup (chowder) you'll have! Happy New Year to you.

Whiskey Crab Soup
6-8 servings

1 2.5-pound Dungeness crab
1-2 King crab legs
1 quart crab stock (ingredients below)
½ cup plus 2 Tbsp butter, divided
¾ cup flour
3 cups whipping cream
Juice of 1 lemon
Dash liquid hot-pepper sauce
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
¼ tsp Old Bay seasoning
¼ tsp ground white pepper
2 tsp whiskey
1 Tbsp dry sherry
Salt, to taste
Crab Stock:
2 Tbsp olive oil
Shells from 1 Dungeness crab
Shells from King Crab legs
¼ cup peeled, chopped carrot
½ cup peeled, chopped onion
¼ cup chopped celery
¼ cup brandy or cognac
1 quart cold water
2 cloves unpeeled garlic, crushed
1 bay leaf
1 tsp dried tarragon
4 Tbsp tomato paste
Fresh chopped parsley for garnish

Clean crab and remove meat from shells, reserving shells for the stock. Wrap meat and refrigerate.

Prepare the stock: In heavy stockpot, heat olive oil; add crab shells, carrot, onion and celery, and brown lightly. Add brandy or cognac and ignite. When flames have expired, add water, garlic, bay leaf, tarragon, and tomato paste.

Bring stock to a low simmer and cook 2 to 3 hours, occasionally skimming off any scum that rises to the surface.

Remove from heat and strain mixture through fine sieve.

Refrigerate until ready to use.

To prepare the soup:

In large heavy saucepan, make a roux by melting ½ cup butter over medium heat. When the foam subsides, add flour all at once. Stirring constantly, reduce heat to low and cook, stirring, until mixture is blonde colored, about 5 minutes.

Add crab stock 1 cup at a time, whisking thoroughly after each addition. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes, skimming frequently.

Add whipping cream, lemon juice, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, Old Bay seasoning and white pepper; bring back to a simmer and cook 10 minutes.

Add whiskey, sherry, remaining 2 tablespoons butter and reserved crab meat, and cook 1 minute to heat through.

Season with salt and ladle into bowls.

Garnish with a pinch of Old Bay seasoning and fresh chopped parsley, if desired.

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