This sweet, tangy silky smooth Red Pepper Bisque with Citrusy Crab Salad is ideal for a sweltering summer evening dinner with friends. It is also a labor of love. The silky refined texture is achieved by straining the soup through the fine-mesh sieve. Part of preparation is sautéing the peppers for a long time that really brings out their natural sweetness. The bright flavors and beautifully vibrant saturated color excites the palate with anticipation even on the sultriest of summer days or evenings. Take the time and savor the rich complex flavors with each spoon. Shop for the bright-colored and firm medium sized red bell peppers without any visible bruising or rotten spots. In order to build the depth of flavor, season the soup well throughout the cooking process. For a spicy kick add a dash of Tabasco sauce. Mix in some brandy for smokiness, warmness and enhanced depth. For garnish, scoop some of the avocado into the middle of each bowl topped off with spicy lump crab meat and pour the soup around it. Serve warm or at room temperature. Enjoy!
Jumbo Lump Crab Meat, as seen on the picture, is ideal for this recipe. Known for its sweetness and hearty texture, and what’s important, it has no shells or cartridge in its meat. Fresh crab meat is expensive and sold in one pound containers, but it is well worth it. It can be stored for five days in the refrigerator. I shredded mine slightly to increase the volume of the meat.
Cut the root end and the dark green parts off the leek, reserving its white and pale green part only. Half a leek used in this recipe adds another layer of great flavor to the soup. Reserve the other half for another use.
Fan open, and wash the leak under the cold running water to get rid of any dirt, soil or sand. Roughly chop the leek.
You will need eight medium sized bell peppers in total, five of them roughly chopped, and three whole peppers for roasting.
Roughly chop half of the onion. Reserve the second half for another use.
Add three tablespoons olive oil to a large stock pot set over low heat, and then add the chopped raw peppers, onion, leek, garlic and celery. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper to taste.
Allow the vegetables to cook gently, or “sweat”, for at least 30 minutes, until very soft but not browned.
Sachet of herbs: bay leaf, 10 peppercorns and thyme spring. I didn’t have the cheese cloth so I used the leek leaf instead to hold the herbs, tied with the kitchen twine.
Pour the brandy into the pan to deglaze, increase the heat to medium, and reduce completely. (The alcohol smell has to evaporate completely).
Add in the vegetable stock or water, as well as the sachet of herbs and saffron, simmer for one hour.
Add the reserved roasted peppers to the soup and purée the mixture, very carefully as it will be hot, in batches. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve, and season to taste with salt and cayenne pepper. Finish the soup with an additional dash of brandy, and Tabasco, if desired, and keep it warm.
To Make the Citrus Crab Salad: Combine crab meat, lime juice, 2 tablespoons olive oil and cilantro or basil chiffonade. Season the salad to taste with Tabasco, salt and cayenne pepper.
Arrange diced avocado at the bottom of each bowl, and place the crab salad in the center. Top the salad with some of the lime zest, and pour the soup around the salad.
Red Pepper Bisque with Citrus Crab Salad
recipe detailsServes 8
IngredientsFor the Soup
- 8 medium sized bell peppers, chopped, plus 3 whole peppers, for roasting
- ½ large onion, roughly chopped
- ½ leek, white and light green parts chopped
- ½ head garlic, cloves peeled
- ½ rib of celery, chopped
- ½ cup brandy, plus more for finishing soup
- 2 quarts vegetable stock or water
- Sachet of bay leaf, thyme and peppercorns, wrapped in leek leaf or cheesecloth
- 2 tablespoons avocado, cut into medium dice
- Zest of ½ lime, for garnish
- Saffron (optional)
- ½ pound lump crab meat
- Juice ½ lime
- 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons cilantro (or basil, cut into a chiffonade), thinly chopped
- Dash of Tabasco sauce
- Cayenne pepper