Blue swimmer crab soup

Serves 4-6

I spent a few days over the New Year down at Mitch Tonk's house in Brixham, Devon. We cooked up a storm on New Year's Eve with lightly salted pollack cooked in olive oil with the most buttery mash ever (pommes mousseline actually) and delicious Dexter beef chops cooked on the Okabashi grill – the rest of my stay turned into a bit of a blur.

During the day, the younger kids went crabbing off the marina pontoon with Robin Hancock of Wright Bros, the oyster bar in Borough Market. They proudly brought back a few blue swimmer crabs in their bucket and that gave me the idea of making a sauce to go with a whole baked turbot that we were planning to eat that night. The kids perched themselves on stools near the cooker armed with a wooden spoon and I took them through the process of making crab sauce. It was delicious; so much so that most of it was consumed before dinner, and we had to settle for Hollandaise instead. I'm sure the kids didn't expect their crabbing expedition to turn into a cook-up with such delicious results. So why don't we use blue swimmer crabs more? Even the poor old spider crab doesn't get much of a look-in. In Spain and France they are on display in most fishmongers for soups and stews, but here they are just regarded as a pest to fishermen because they eat all the bait before the brown crabs can get to it.

500-600g blue swimmer crabs
1tbsp vegetable oil
1 small onion, peeled and roughly chopped
1 small leek, trimmed and roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
10-15 strands of saffron
A few sprigs of thyme
1 bay leaf
40g butter
2tbsp tomato purée
3tbsp flour
1 glass of white wine
1.5litres fish stock, or a couple of good fish stock cubes in 1.5litres of hot water
100ml double cream
Salt and freshly ground white pepper

Put the crabs in the freezer for about 30-40 minutes then remove them and chop them into pieces. Heat the vegetable oil in a large heavy-based saucepan and fry the crabs over a high heat for about 5 minutes, stirring every so often until they begin to colour. Add the onion, leek, garlic, fennel seeds, saffron, thyme and bay leaf, and continue cooking for another 5 minutes or so, until the vegetables begin to colour. Add the butter and stir well, then add the tomato purée and flour, stir again and cook for a minute or so over a low heat. Add the white wine, then slowly add the fish stock, stirring to get rid of any lumps. Bring to the boil, season with salt and pepper, and simmer gently for 1 hour.

Blend the soup in a liquidiser or a strong food processor then strain through a fine-meshed sieve.

Return to a clean pan, season with a little salt and pepper, if necessary, and bring to the boil. To serve, add the cream and adjust the seasoning again, if necessary, and stir well.

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Ashdown Group: Print Designer - High Wycombe - Permanent £28K

    £25000 - £28000 per annum + 24 days holiday, bonus, etc.: Ashdown Group: Print...

    Recruitment Genius: Business Travel Consultant

    £20000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in London, Manches...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer and Brand Manager

    £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Customer and Brand Manager required for ...

    Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator

    £25000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator A...

    Day In a Page

    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    10 best PS4 games

    10 best PS4 games

    Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
    Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

    ‘Can we really just turn away?’

    Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

    ... and not just because of Isis vandalism
    Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

    Girl on a Plane

    An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
    Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

    That's a bit rich

    The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
    Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

    Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

    Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference
    Rugby World Cup 2015: The tournament's forgotten XV

    Forgotten XV of the rugby World Cup

    Now the squads are out, Chris Hewett picks a side of stars who missed the cut
    A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

    Britain's Atlantis

    Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
    The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

    The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

    David Starkey's assessment
    Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

    'An enormous privilege and adventure'

    Oliver Sacks writing about his life
    'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

    'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

    The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'