NFL team loyalty is a crazy thing. Growing up in Washington state, we were diehard Seahawks fans; after all, who else can you root for all the way up in the Pacific Northwest? Moving away and living in Hawaii for seven years really messed me up, since football games come on so early – over the years, the whole sport dropped off my radar. That all changed six years ago when our family moved to Baltimore, the proud home of the Ravens, and I was immediately drawn to this tough, talented, and admittedly dirty team. Today, I’m torn between who to support – Seattle or Baltimore – but luckily they rarely play each other so it isn’t that big of a deal.
It’s been hard for me to follow games closely after canceling our TV service a couple years ago, but since our family is moving once again this fall (to Pensacola, Florida this time), I can’t help but feel a little sentimental knowing this is our last season in the heart of Ravens madness. The folks behind Tabasco recently asked me to come up with a dish that used ingredients that were indicative of my local NFL team, and something with blue crab immediately came to mind. Since crab cakes are already in my cookbook, I went with my next favorite crab dish – bisque.
A bisque is a cream-based soup of French origin, typically made with shellfish. Seafood bisques are very popular in Maryland, and can be found in just about every diner menu (and we have a lot of diners). I like the type of bisque you find in Maryland – simple, honest flavors – so I whipped up a basic recipe for the home chef, adding a little Chipotle Tabasco in for some kick.
My next challenge: picking a Florida NFL team to follow.
Blue Crab and Chipotle Bisque
2 tbsp butter or ghee
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp brandy (1/4 cup dry white wine okay)
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/3 cup basmati rice, rinsed
6 cups shellfish stock, fish stock or combination
1/2 cup cream (coconut milk okay)
6 squirts Chipotle Tabasco, more to taste
1 lb blue crab meat, fully cooked
2 tbsp fresh parsley or tarragon, chopped
1. In a stockpot or Dutch oven, warm the butter over medium heat, then add the chopped onion and carrot; sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until aromatic, about 1 minute, then add the brandy (or white wine if you don’t have brandy). Cook, stirring often, until the liquid has evaporated, about 2 minutes, then add the tomato paste. Stir together and sauté until aromatic, then add the rice and stock.
2. Bring to a simmer then reduce heat to med/low; simmer until the rice is very tender, about 40 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
3. Using an immersion blender, blend the soup until smooth. Alternatively, you can transfer the soup to a blender and blend in batches before returning to the pot. Once smooth, remove from heat and stir in the cream or coconut milk and add the Tabasco. Carefully add all but a little of the blue crab meat, stirring gently so as to not break up the crab chunks. Garnish with fresh parsley or tarragon and the remaining crab, and serve alongside the Tabasco.
** While adding rice to thicken the soup sounds like the most brilliant thing I’ve ever come up with, it isn’t – this is actually the traditional method for thickening bisques.
** Here in Maryland, blue crab meat is sold in these little plastic tubs, 1 lb in weight and perfect for this recipe. Canned crab would work too, but will not have that many crab chunks.
Beautiful, messy veggies before adding the rice and broth.