So my plan WAS to pitch this as your next must-make cozy winter meal.
But Mother Nature is screwing that up! This warm streak of weather has been L-O-V-E-L-Y but so unexpected. I’m still down for soup and sweater weather, but I think I may be alone. People are eating up this spring-like weather like crazy. Not that I blame them. I just wasn’t quite ready to say goodbye to cozy time. Also, side bar: I kind of think it means our world is ending. I know. I’m cray.
The good (bad?) news is that I don’t think we’re quite in the clear yet. Mother Nature is a….mother. She is fickle. I fear we still have some cold days and nights in our future.
Let’s just ignore the weather for a moment so I can get back to my original point: this bisque is incredible and should happen in your life ASAP. Plus, it all happens in a slow cooker or crock pot, which makes it totally appropriate for warmer weather. It will keep your kitchen nice and cool. My slow cooker takes things a step further and allows for me to saute veggies right in the slow cooker itself, rather than turning on the stove and dirtying another pan.
It is LIFE CHANGING. Seriously. I have been cooking with it nonstop since buying it earlier this year, way more than I normally used my slow cooker in the past. The sear/saute option changes the whole crock pot game.
Dan and I are huge fans of seafood bisque. In fact, if a variation of seafood bisque is on a menu, we almost always order it. Even if it doesn’t “go” with the rest of our meal. It’s just a special sort of dish to us, especially since I rarely take the time to make it at home. That’s one of my rules when ordering out: try to eat as much stuff off the menu that I’m not ambitious enough to try in my own kitchen. It works out well 99% of the time.
The thing is, seafood bisque, when done right, can take some extra love and labor. It often involves boiling crustacean shells to infuse your stock. Lots of straining and heating and reheating. I usually don’t have time for that.
My solution? Use really, really good, fresh seafood and store bought seafood stock. Seriously. People will never know the difference, as long as the seafood you’re using is fresh.
For this particular bisque, I went with shrimp and crab, two of our favorites. The shrimp are affordable and easy to find, and the crab…well…that’s the indulgent part of this dish. Jumbo lump crab costs a pretty penny, but I find that a little goes a long way. Plus, people just get EXCITED when lump crab shows up in their bisque. And who can blame them? It is a very special ingredient that is definitely worth the price point.
It makes this bisque something special, too. The bisque itself is fairly straightforward. Veggies, stock, aromatics simmering away for a few hours (oh, and let’s not forget the sherry. VERY important). Shrimp and some of the crab are added in and poached until just tender and perfect. Then comes the rest of the crab. In cold salad form!
OK, so I know it sounds kind of weird to top a hot, rich, creamy soup with a cold crab salad, but this is one of those weird things that you’re just going to have to trust me on. It works, people. It just does. The crab is lightly (key word!) dressed in a mixture of mayo, mustards, lemon, and herbs and added to each bowl of soup just before serving. It adds a fun and slightly tangy twist to the dish. Plus it’s gorgeous!
It adds a slightly different, weird-in-a-good-way twist on a fairly traditional seafood bisque, and now that I’ve gone weird, I don’t know that I can ever go back.
In fact, it pairs perfectly with this super weird weather we’re having.
Oh, and icy cold white wine and crunchy baguette toasts. Just sayin’.
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
3 leeks, washed well and sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
Pinch of red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
4 cups seafood or fish stock
2 cups water
1 (15-oz) can diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup dry sherry (or brandy, cognac, dry white wine)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 cup half-and-half or heavy cream
1 lb peeled/deveined shrimp
1 cup fresh jumbo lump crab
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
Toasted bread or croutons, for serving
Juice of ½ a lemon
2 tablespoons of mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
1 cup fresh jumbo lump crab
Salt and pepper, to taste
Heat a skillet** over medium heat and add the oil and butter. Add the leeks and garlic, along with a pinch of salt and the red pepper flakes, and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 5 minutes.
Transfer the leek mixture to the bottom of your slow cooker pot.
Add in the tomato paste, stock, water, tomatoes, Old Bay seasoning, and sugar, stirring well to combine.
In a mixing cup, whisk together the brandy/sherry and flour until smooth. Stir into the stock mixture. Add in the salt and pepper and cook in the slow cooker on low for 4 hours or high for 2 hours.
Taste the bisque base for seasoning and adjust as necessary. Stir in the shrimp, cream, fresh crab, and parsley and continue cooking for another 15 minutes or until the shrimp are pink and cooked through. Keep warm until you are ready to serve.
While your bisque is cooking, make the crab topping by combining the lemon juice, mayo, mustards, and parsley in a mixing bowl. Gently fold in the crab meat, being careful to not break it up too much. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper, Keep chilled until you are ready to serve.
Ladle the bisque into serving bowls and top with some of the cold crab salad. Garnish with additional parsley, if desired, and serve while warm with toasted bread of croutons.
I have a slow cooker that can be used like a skillet, so I made this entire thing in the slow cooker pot. If you have a sear/saute option on your slow cooker, you can save a couple steps (and the second pan!) and do the whole thing in the slow cooker.