Saturday, April 23, 2011

Crabby Bisque

In my omnivorous/pescatarian past, one of my most dearly beloved soups was lobster and/or crab bisque. It was one of those things that I'd order in a restaurant, but it would never have occurred to me to make at home. But as with so many dishes I've made since becoming vegan, the notion of veganizing this old favorite has become a veritable maggot in my brain. So when my partner saw some fake crabmeat in the freezer case of our local Loving Hut, he knew what to do, and this thick, creamy, and slightly spicy soup is the happy result. I used some dried seaweed to try to achieve that oceanic je ne sais quoi, and will probably up the quantity next time (I may use toasted, crumbled nori instead of dulse; watch this space). We had ours with salad and crusty bread, but for a more authentic touch, try getting your hands on some of those little oyster crackers that New England restaurants always serve alongside seafood soups or chowders!

Crabby Bisque
~ 4 tbsp. vegan margarine
~ 1 cup finely chopped onion
~ 1 cup diced carrot
~ 1/2 cup diced celery
~ 1 tbsp. minced garlic
~ 2 bay leaves
~ 1 tsp. each: kosher salt, tarragon, thyme, paprika
~ 2-3 tsp. crumbled dulse or other seaweed
~ 1/4 - 1/2 tsp. cayenne (or to taste)
~ Pinch nutmeg
~ A few generous grinds of fresh black pepper
~ 8 oz. vegetarian crabmeat (thawed and rinsed, if frozen)
~ 3/4 cup dry sherry, divided
~ 4 tbsp. flour
~ 2 cups unsweetened vegan creamer (such as Silk or Mimicreme)
~ 1 tbsp. each: tomato paste, vegan Worcestershire sauce
~ 4 cups vegetable stock
~ 1/2 cup soft, silken tofu or vegan cream cheese (I used Tofutti)

~ In a large, deep pot, melt the margarine over moderate heat and add the onions. Saute for about 3 minutes.
~ Add the carrots and celery, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes more.
~ Add the garlic, bay leaves, and dried seasonings (through the black pepper), and cook another minute or so.
~ Add the "crab" and cook for a few minutes, until it is broken up and coated with the seasonings.
~ Pour in 1/2 cup of the sherry to deglaze the pan. When it has mostly cooked off, add the flour and 1/4 cup of the creamer. S
tir to combine, and then gradually add the remaining creamer.
~ Add the tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, and vegetable broth. Stir thoroughly and bring to a boil before lowering the heat to simmer. Cover and cook for 15-20 minutes.
~ Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Remove the bay leaves, stir in the remaining 1/4 cup sherry and the cream cheese or silken tofu, and puree with an immersion blender until completely smooth.
~ Return to heat until almost but not quite boiling, and serve hot.

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