Crab & Sweet Corn Soup
Crab & Stock:
2 lbs. Red King crab, legs and claws, or other crab of your choosing, meat separated from the shells, picked through very carefully to remove all bits of shell and cartilage (and picked through again), shells reserved
1 onion, coarsely chopped
2 stalks of celery, coarsely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
2 bay leaves
2 t. peppercorns
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
4 sprigs of fresh parsley
2 qt. water
4 medium ears of fresh corn
2 T. olive oil
1 c. chopped shallots
2 T. tomato paste
2 t. minced fresh thyme, divided
1/3 c. dry sherry
1 roasted red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
3/4 t. salt (or to taste)
freshly ground black pepper
2 T. minced fresh parsley
2-4 T. fresh squeezed lemon juice (depending on personal taste)
Make the crab stock: In a large stockpot or Dutch oven add the crab shells and remaining ingredients for the stock (except the salt). Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for an hour, the liquid should be reduced by at least half. Strain the stock, using a fine-mesh strainer, discarding solids (you should have 3-4 c. of stock) season lightly with salt to taste. *You can do this step a day ahead of time, and keep the stock in the refrigerator until ready to use, any longer and I would suggest freezing the stock. Also if you do this, you'll also want to freeze the crab meat as well, my preferred way to freeze crab meat is by placing the meat in a ziplock freezer bag and adding a few tablespoons of milk.
Cut the kernels from the ears of corn into a large bowl (you should have around 3 c. corn). Using the back of a chef's knife, scrape the spent cobs to extract the sweet, milky corn pulp into a separate bowl. Add a cup of the corn kernels into the bowl with the corn pulp and reserve the remaining corn kernels.
To make the soup: Heat olive oil in a soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat until the oil is shimmering, add the shallots and saute, stirring occasionally, until the shallot is softened and browned around the edges, about 5-7 minutes. Add the tomato paste and 1 1/2 t. thyme. Cook, stirring constantly, until the tomato paste is evenly incorporated into the shallots and is darkened in color, 2-3 minutes. Add the dry sherry, cook, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot, until the liquid is almost completely cooked out, about a minute. Add the crab stock, plus additional water (or bottled clam juice) to measure 5 cups of liquid total, along with the roasted red pepper and the corn/pulp mixture. Bring to a simmer, simmer for about 10-15 minutes, to blend the flavors.
Working in batches, ladle the soup into a blender and puree until smooth. Return the soup to the pot, add the salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a gentle simmer, add the remaining thyme, the remaining 2 c. corn kernels and about 2/3 of the crab meat. Gently simmer for 3-4 minutes. Off heat, stir in lemon juice and parsley, season with salt & pepper to taste. To serve: ladle the soup into bowls, garnish with the remaining crab meat.