A Bowl Of Crab Soup - Catching Dinner In The "Backyard"

Monday, November 08, 2010

Crab Soup

People I meet when on travels are often wondering whether I am exaggerating when I enthusiastically mention getting our dinner fresh from the dock or the sea. The answer as you can see from the pictures below is no. Not at all. All the possessions in the world will never equate the intense sense of gratitude we feel from being so close to the water and taking some time receiving from the ocean some of its bounty.

Extended Backyard
View from the dock - what we call "the extended backyard".

We are indeed lucky to be able to just go catch a dozen crabs on a sunny Sunday afternoon or cast our net during shrimp season to make fresh shrimp and pesto linguine for dinner. Yes. We know. Once that first shrimp hits our lips, we can smell and taste all the depths of the ocean in just one bite. Slightly sweet, a bit salty, strong earthy flavor. It's like that first sip of perfectly cold beer on a sweltering day. Magic.

Bailey At The Dock
Bailey is one happy puppy!

I sort of apply the same feelings to the first soup enjoyed on the first chilly day of the year. I've been making the same ones every season. Crab soup and lentil soup with a poached egg on top. I can't say we get really cold weather here, maybe for a few weeks, but the little nip of crisp and chill weather is enough to turn everyone to light fires and make soup. Just because it's a bit chilly. Just to take the edge off.

Setting and Lowering Crab Traps
Bailey and Bill checking on the crab catching progress.

Impatiently waiting for a drop in temperature last week, I got the pups and the husband to the dock to enjoy the cool ocean breeze for a little while. Once home, I opened up all the windows one night and let the breeze come wafting in while I started simmering this soup.

Dinner Catch - In My Backyard
This guy is a little cold - not too speedy to realize what the heck is going on...

Anyone who has spent some time with the ocean will tell you that the world moves at a different pace. It tells you when your dinner is caught, not the other way around. It tells you to slow down for a while and just be. Observe. You might see some pretty nifty things this way.

Pirate Fiddler Crab & Baby Shrimp

A fiddler crab that looks straight out of "Pirates of The Caribbean" he spent so much time under water. A baby shrimp almost translucent as it's still building strength and character. A few porpoises at sunset playing hide and seek on the horizon (pics next time).

Mad Crab
Trust me....he's not reaching for a hug.

Yes. I like traveling but I also like coming home. I am a mountain girl from the rocky side hills of Provence. I can also crack, pull apart and pick a crab faster than my mother in law now. Ha! I'm still discovering all that the ocean has to give and the abundant seafood culture of the South. But trust me I do my best every week while cooking to appreciate it even more. Starting with crab soup.

Simple, naturally sweet from the crab and with a tiny little kick to it, this soup is great as a starter for a celebration meal or on its own for a casual and cozy dinner. As with anything in life, it's best shared with loved ones and friends even though you might be tempted to hoard it all for yourself. Fair warning.

Picking Crab

A bowl of hot crab soup, a piece of bread and a crackling fire. It's good to be home and take a breather before the next adventure.

Crab Soup

P.S: Congratulations to Karin Alisa Houben and Kathy from Foodiebia - each winners of a copy of Food Heroes by Georgia Pelligrini. Send me your addresses at mytartelette {at} gmail {dot} com so that Georgia's publisher can get those out to you pronto!

Crab Soup, adapted from Cooking Light 2003.

Notes: If you get the chance to get fresh crabs, just cook them in a pot of lightly salted boiling water for about 8 minutes per crab. To pick a crab, this video is really easy to follow.

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped carrot
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon herbes de Provence
1 bay leaf
4 cups water
1/4 cup cornstarch (or arrowroot) dissolved in 1/4 cup water
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 pound lump crab meat
2 tablespoons Cognac

Melt the butter with the olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the carrot and the next 5 ingredients (through jalapeno), and sauté 5 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Add salt, black pepper, herbes de Provence, and bay leaf. Cook for 1 minute. Stir in the water, and cornstarch/water mixture and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until slightly thick, stirring frequently.
Stir in the milk and cream and cook 5 minutes. Stir in crabmeat and cognac cook 5 minutes or until the soup is thoroughly heated. Serve.

54 comments:

I run for cake! said...

Would love to have a bowl of this right now! Those pictures of the crabs are beautiful! Living so close to the water is a treat for fresh seafood. My husband and I live in Mobile, AL and he goes grabbing all the time, there is nothing better than fresh crab meat!

Taylor said...

Love it! Another great post. Bailey looks so happy!

Jas. said...

WOw look at the blue colour of that crab! I've only seen murky brown, orange and blackish ones here in WA.
Sounds like a delicious soup, one I'd try if I were ever to visit the states again!

Krissy said...

I love the colors in the crab picture. Wow!

Mommy Miscellaneous

Karen from Globetrotter Diaries said...

Wow! Wish I could get my meal straight from the sea-- can only imagine how yummy it is!

Amber said...

I love crab! Lovely photos.
Cheers.

New Kitch on the Blog said...

This makes me want to live close to the water! But in this area of germany where I live we only have a river which is grey, cold and uncomfortable. But thank god I have your beautiful pictures to look at! :-)

Más allá de 365 sonrisas said...

Simple and fantastic story. Kind regards,

Marta

shaz said...

How wonderful to be able to get such fresh crabs! I love that photo of the one with the pincers out :)

My Little Expat Kitchen said...

The color of that crab (while still alive) is wonderful. Cooked though is a great treat for the taste buds! I bet that soup was super tasty.
Magda

Jessica @ How Sweet said...

The photos of the crab are incredible! I love crab and any seafood.

Chapstick Fanatic said...

My grandfather had a house on the Wye River (of the Cheasapeake Bay in Maryland) up until a few years ago and I had been crabbing since I was little. Needless to say, I was spoiled with the amount of crabs we ate during the summer. Now that I have to go bye them, I can't believe how expensive they are!! I miss it!

http://lachapstickfanatique.blogspot.com

magnolia said...

Oh yum! You're so making me wish I were at DeBordieu (South Carolina) where we catch blue crabs. We'll spend hours sitting at that table picking and eating and picking and eating and then just picking when we're full, talking about what to make the next day with our picked crab. The soup looks incredibly yummy!

macchabiscotti said...

oh...if only I could ignore the fact that I`m alergic to crab (sad!), I would just go get them at the store right away!
lovely pictures, by the way :)

Yue Edwards said...

is there anything better than catch the crab and eat it too? your life looks so much fun!! maybe this is the privilege to be a freelancer?

Anna said...

Beautiful! I recently moved from the east coast to the midwest. I really miss the ocean -- that photo of the blue water made me think about the rhythm of the waves, just watching them swell up and down. Your photos are fabulous.

Ana - El dia mas dulce said...

Deliciosa esta crema de necoras!!! El colorido de las fotos espectacular, como siempre.
Las fotos de los cangrejos son simpatiquisimas, que suerte poder pescar lo que comes, nosotros vivimos muy lejos del mar, y los pescados y mariscos fresco de vuena calidad son muy caros.
Espero poder hacer tu receta pronto.
Un beso

Ashley J said...

These pictures are simply amazing! This post is making me so hungry!

http://www.afashionfixation.blogspot.com

Amanda Hawkins said...

These photos are lovely! And crap soup...such a temptation for an inland dweller. Thanks!

Roseanna said...

I used to say the same thing to my MIL, my husband is from Maryland and we have enjoyed the bounty from the Chesapeake Bay for many years. We still own a cottage there and August is crab running season...delightful blog and recipe!

Shaina said...

This looks amazing, Helene. I love the little crab on the dock, and I could go for a bowl of crab soup right now. It looks perfect.

Amanda Lee said...

Your photos are always amazing and makes me just wanna grab my camera and do something! :) This post reminds me of my childhood when fishes bought from the market could actually still swim when you get home.

Gypsy Eyes Jewelry said...

Once again you have set my eyes twinkling, mouth salivating and mind wandering.
I can't tell you how thoroughly I savor each new episode. Your exquisite imagery, warm storytelling and enticing recipes take me on wonderful sensory journeys. Thank you for sharing all of this beauty and wonderment.
Now the gravy at the bottom of the bowl (you know, that luscious bit that you simply must tear another piece of bread off to sop it up): I unabashedly admit to doing a whoop and jump for joy when I spotted my name as winner of your current give-away!
I so look forward to sinking my teeth into Food Heros!
Many Thanks!!!

Global Butterfly said...

Wow, you are so so so lucky to live that close to the water!!!

ThinkLoveSleepEat said...

Oh wow! I'm painfully envious of where you live. The water, warm temps, fresh seafood...it all makes me swoon. And that soup looks incredible!

wenderly said...

Oh heavens am I jealous. That looks splendid from beginning to end! Thanks for letting me live vicariously through you.

Steffen said...

This site is just awesome,
you create such beautiful and artificial photos, I can`t get my eyes away of those nice and perfect pics. I love that style.

sanju said...

Hi,

I don't eat seafood but your pictures are amazing.

Amanda said...

I don't eat seafood while I'm at home in north Texas (I have issues with the freshness available), but the soup looks delicious. I'm going to the Atlantic coast next summer and I'll have to try crab soup when I'm there.

Alice from Northeast Locavore said...

Beautiful post! Your photography is spectacular. Thanks for sharing.

The InTolerant Chef said...

How lucky you are! This recipe looks so delicious, Yumm...

Scarletta said...

You are making me miss my East Coast roots! Thank you for posting - I truely appreciate your appreciation for the sea.

Spicy Green Mango said...

Simply amazing and hearty just staring at this! Love the vibrancy of the freshly caught crab!

Scarlett said...

Wow-beautiful and such a cute dog!

Lori said...

Hmmmm. Hello Mr Bluecrab- you are looking mighty fine.

I actually have a bag of shells and such in my freezer. I think I need to make stock this week.

Scarletta said...

This soup, and your 'backyard', are gorgeous!

You are making me miss the East Coast as well!

Bertha said...

You live in such beautiful place, which i though only exists in movies :). You are so lucky to be able to get fresh seafood from its source, envy in all sorts of way :)

Lan said...

Beautiful pictures! now I am craving steamed crab legs with salt, pepper, and lemon.

millysminikitchen said...

I love these photos :)

Melissa said...

I think this is one of my favourite posts by you - such beautiful images (as usual!)
I live by the Pacific and you are so right that the world by the sea does indeed move at a different pace. Winter is my favourite time to be by the sea. Thanks for this.

girl paraphernalia said...

This is how I Remember it as a child, are you on the east coast of the U.S.?

Libby said...

Oh, this post has made me so sad for my poor Gulf Coast. We used to be able to enjoy fresh fish from the ocean (even if we didn't catch it ourselves.) Now...the fishing has started again, but the catch is, well, oily. I don't think it will ever be the same again.

Still, I really enjoy reading a non dessert post from you!

jaz@octoberfarm said...

i am going to put my recipe for crab bisque shortly here if you want to have a look. yours look very yummy!

thecookandtheguitarist said...

I love your photography!

ABowlOfMush said...

Such a delicious looking crab soup.

I love the pictures :)

jenious said...

Gorgeous photos! The crab's shell is so vibrant - I never knew...

I'm slowly learning about living near the sea, as we visit the Cape Cod area every weekend. Your impressions are spot on. I look forward to savoring this lifestyle full-time. Cheers!

Kendra @ My First Kitchen said...

I've never commented before (crazy me), but I just love your blog. Love your photos. Love your spirit. I'm stoked about your food styling book and have already decided that I'm buying it for myself this Christmas. So thanks for doing what you do and for encouraging the rest of us to be creative. You have a real gift!

Helene said...

Kendra: it's not a food styling book. There will be styling in it but the majority of the book is on light, natural light and artificial lighting and how to utilize it wherever you are.

Jujube said...

Love your photos.
The crabs on the newspaper is brilliant.

Joy said...

These pictures are absolutely GORGEOUS. I love the blues in the ocean and the crabs. It looks like such a wonderful place. :) Thank you for sharing!

marla {family fresh cooking} said...

I feel like I know you that much better now that I have had a glimpse at Bill & Bailey. Looks like such a fun outing. Those blue crabs are beautiful & the soup sounds delish! xo

marla {family fresh cooking} said...

I feel like I know you that much better now that I have had a glimpse at Bill & Bailey. Looks like such a fun outing. Those blue crabs are beautiful & the soup sounds delish! xo

Nicole Franzen said...

stunning, the blue crab is such an amazing creature. well captured
x
Nicole

rose said...

Truly, some of your most inspirational, awe-inspiring, delight-making, simply stunning photos. EVER. Thanks for sharing beauty with the world.

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