Crab and fennel soup

3…2…1…soup’s on!

Originally appeared in the December 29, 2011 edition of the Southside Times.

This week’s recipe is a little deceptive—the ingredients are sparse, and the execution is woefully simple.  But that doesn’t mean the result is underwhelming.  Keep reading:Let’s briefly talk about the fennel.  Latin for “little hay,” sweet fennel was prized by the Greeks who gave it the nickname “marathon” as a tribute recalling the location of a victory over the Persians.  Moreover, the feathery-topped vegetables were a symbol of success.  Fennel is often erroneously described as anise (because of its aroma) and dill (certainly because of the fronds’ appearance).  In Italy, raw pieces of fennel are customarily served at the end of a meal as a palate-cleanser.

Not to be outdone, the crab element adds a top-notch touch of seafood flair.  You don’t need much, just enough to add to the existing sweetness from the fennel, wine, and the tomato.  When you purchase your crab, make sure you give the meaty pieces of crustacean a thorough inspection, picking through and discarding and leftover bits of shell.

In our next installment, it will be a new year; and I hope this dish—like the Greeks’ symbol of fennel—serves as a sign of a culinary success in 2012.  Happy New Year, dear reader.

Crab and fennel soup

Serves 3 – 4

  • As needed, olive oil
  • ¼ white onion, small chop
  • 1 fennel bulb, cored, thin slice (stalks and fronds reserved for garnishing)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • 1, 14 ½-ounce can of diced tomatoes with juice
  • 1 cup chicken (or vegetable) stock
  • ½ tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 8 ounces crabmeat
  • To taste, kosher salt and cracked black pepper
  • As needed, toasted rustic bread

1.  In a medium saucepan, heat small amount of oil over medium heat.  Add onions and cook to translucent and just beginning to caramelize.  Add fennel; cook until it begins to become translucent.  Add garlic, sweat but don’t burn.  Add in some extra oil and sprinkle in flour; use a wooden spoon to stir and create a paste (this is called a roux, and will give some body to the finished broth).  Add wine and allow to reduce slightly.  Pour in tomatoes and juice; lower heat and allow to simmer and reduce.  Add stock and reduce for several minutes.

2.  Remove soup from heat and stir in parsley.  Taste and adjust seasonings.  Chop some of the reserved fennel fronds, and use them as garnish at service.  Spoon in a generous portion of crabmeat for each serving.  Compliment dishes with toasted bread.

Published in: on December 27, 2011 at 9:33 am  Leave a Comment  
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