Crab Bisque


This is Richard Shepherd’s excellent crab soup from Langan’s restaurant in London.


  • 2 cups each onion, leek, celery, and carrot, all cut into small dice
  • 2-3 lb whole crabs, shell and claws broken into small pieces and “dead men’s fingers” removed
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter
  • A bouquet garni of bay leaf, thyme, parsley stems, and peppercorns
  • ½ cup tomato paste
  • ½ cup Cognac
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 5 cups good fish stock
  • cup long-grain rice
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • ½ cup heavy cream


Sweat the vegetables and crab pieces in the butter until the vegetables are tender. Add the bouquet garni, tomato paste, Cognac, wine, and stock. Stir and bring to a boil. Then add the rice and simmer for 45 minutes with the lid a little askew.

Strain off the liquid through a fine sieve and reserve. Discard the large, tough pieces of crab shell, then pulverize the remaining contents of the sieve into a paste using a blender, food processor or even pestle and mortar. Pass this through the sieve to remove any sharp pieces of shell. Add the reserved liquid, return to the heat, and bring to a boil again.

Check the seasoning and consistency of the soup, which should be fairly thick. If it is too thin, add beurre manié (2 tsp each of flour and butter, mashed together), whisked into the soup a little at a time. Serve topped with a swirl of cream.