1 lb. snow crab legs or clusters, cut into approximately 3" sections
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 medium leek, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 stalk celery, diced
3 medium ripe tomatoes, diced
Salt & pepper
1/4 cup brandy or dry sherry
4 tbsp. tomato paste
1 bay leaf
3-4 sprigs fresh tarragon
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
4-5 sprigs fresh parsley
1/2 tsp. whole black peppercorns
3 8-oz. bottles of clam juice
6 cups water
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup hot stock
2 cups heavy cream
1 tsp. black pepper
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. sugar
1 lb. canned or fresh lump crabmeat
2 tbsp. brandy
Snipped chives or chopped scallions (green parts only) for garnish
1. Heat olive oil and butter over medium high heat in a large stock pot (I use enameled cast iron) and add the onions, leeks and garlic; season with a little salt and pepper and saute until tender.
2. Add the carrots, celery and tomatoes, season with a little more salt and pepper and saute for 1-2 minutes; add the crab leg sections, tomato paste and 1/4 cup of brandy. Cook on high for about 30 seconds to deglaze.
3. Stir in the bay leaf, tarragon, thyme, parsley and black peppercorns.
4. Add the bottled clam juice and 6 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a low simmer, cover, and cook for 2 hours.
5. Strain the soup, discarding the crab shells and veggies. Return the soup back to the pan and bring back to a boil.
6. Make the flour slurry: place 1/2 cup of flour into a medium bowl or large measuring cup; add 1/2 cup of the hot stock and whisk the mixture constantly until well blended.
7. Add the flour slurry to the soup, whisking to incorporate, then simmer for 5-10 minutes until it starts to thicken.
8. Add the heavy cream and bring to a boil. Taste and adjust for seasonings (I ended up adding 1 tsp. black pepper, 2 tsp. kosher salt, and 1 tsp. sugar). Add 2/3 of the crab and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for another 5-10 minutes or until the bisque is nicely thickened.
9. Just before serving, stir in the remaining crab and 2 tbsp. of brandy. Turn of heat and ladle into serving bowls. Garnish with snipped chives or finely chopped green onion.
A great accompaniment would be garlic French bread or croutons.