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…or perhaps we could call this post “Soup Bender weekend #2:  the extended dance remix.”

I broke one of my hardfast rules about cooking – ALWAYS read a recipe through thoroughly – every single word – before you start the prep work.  Even before you start grocery shopping for ingredients.  Somehow in skimming through this latest intriguing soup recipe, I’d missed a casual yet crucial phrase in the final steps while the cooking was already well underway.  “…transfer to a blender…”

Um, OK.  The last two soups I made did not require blending/pureeing at the final step, and I’d made a bad assumption this one wouldn’t either given it’s from the same cookbook.  So I’d planned to just make this recipe un-pureed (is that a word) and keep it chunky-style, which is just as flavorful, though a far different texture.  (And yeah, I felt lazy too).  Good news that the vegetables did NOT get too mushy…my alternative turned out great.

Crema de Cangrejo (Crabmeat soup) – Serves 6

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped (about 1/2 C)
  • 1/2 C chopped carrots
  • 1/2 C peeled and diced (1/4″) all-purpose potatoes
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 T minced fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 T minced fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp chicken bouillon granules
  • 4 C hot water
  • 6 oz fresh or canned good-quality crabmeat, undrained but picked over for shells and cartilage
  • 1 T fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 C whipping cream (optional)
  • Cayenne pepper or sweet paprika for garnish

Heat the oil in a 4-quart saucepan over low heat.  Add the onion and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes.  Add the garlic, carrots, potatoes, celery, cilantro and parsley and cook, stirring, for a couple of minutes.  Add the mustard, white pepper, salt, bouillon and water.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.  Add the crabmeat and cook for 5 minutes.

Remove from heat.  Let cool for a few minutes, transfer to a blender, and process until smooth.  Return to the saucepan, bring back to a boil, and taste for salt and white pepper.  Stir in the lemon juice and cream (if using), keeping the soup on the burner just long enough to heat through.

Serve in soup cups, sprinkled with cayenne.

Fivenineteen notes:  dry mustard is like a mustard powder.  You can find it in the spice section of most grocery stores.  Do NOT try to substitute regular, creamy mustard or mustard seeds.  It’s not the same and won’t work.  I also chopped up a whole, small potato and a whole, small yellow onion.  It might have been more than the recipe called for, but it turned out great.

Crabmeat:  another sticker-shock moment, although not surprising.  Fresh Dungeness crabmeat was US$29.99 per pound at the grocery store.  Compare that to whole, fresh Dungeness crabs at $8.99 per pound, plus all the cracking, cleaning and scraping/steaming I’d need to do with them…I splurged on a half pound of the prepped, shredded crabmeat.  Which is delicious, by the way.

I was a bit surprised to see a recipe with crab in a South American cookbook for some reason.  But the author, Maria Baez Kijac, explains everything wonderfully in her preface to this recipe:  “In South America, there are a variety of cream soups that don’t necessarily have cream – they owe their creaminess to being pureed.  This crabmeat soup is perfect without cream, but for cream lovers like me, adding a bit of whipping cream just makes the soup taste better.  Sometimes I serve the cream in a separate bowl, so that guests can take a tablespoon to the soup, if they so desire.  Though expensive, crab is found in abundance along the Pacific coast of South America, including Ecuador, where this recipe comes from.”

Yet another fantastic soup meal, with leftovers to savor!  Enjoy!

From The South American Table,  by Maria Baez Kijac