This is a lovely rich, smooth soup worthy of a very posh dinner party. I actually made this for a weekday lunch. The family don’t realise how lucky they are. This is made with a self-caught crab or you could buy one. I am sure it could also be made with crayfish or lobster shells.

First catch your crab. The one in the photo was an impressive specimen weighing 1.5Kg even without all his claws and legs. To cook a crab like that, despatch it humanely then boil in salty water (30g per litre) for 20 minutes. Cool and extract all the lovely white and brown meat. This recipe uses the shell so you can use the meat in something else! Keep all the shell bits and guts, except the feathery gills or “Dead Man’s Fingers”. Bin them, they can harbour toxic bugs.

To make a crab shell bisque, first make the crab stock. I used the Instant Pot pressure cooker, or you could use a large stockpot on the stove. Some people advise roasting the shells first but I didn’t and the result was still superb.

  • Crab shells and bits from one very large or two smaller crabs
  • Enough water to just cover (about 1.5 litres)
  • 6 peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 peeled onion
  • 1 celery stick
  • 1 carrot
  • Optional – more herbs: thyme, parsley etc.

Cook in the instant pot for 20 minutes or simmer very gently on the stove for one hour. Allow to cool, then strain the lovely crabby liquid. There is bound to be some grit at the bottom, try not to include that! Now for the bisque. Serves 4 bowls.

  • 3 shallots
  • Butter or oil

Saute very gently in a large stockpot or sucepan to soften. Add

  • half a cup white wine (or a dash more!)
  • 3 cups crab stock (you will have more – freeze the rest)
  • 2/3rds cup of passata or three tablespoons tomato puree and make up the liquid difference with more crab stock.
  • 1/3 cup white rice

Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Add

  • 1 cup of cooked prawns – keep a few back for garnish

Cool slightly then blend with a stick blender. Add

  • 2/3rd cup of double cream
  • 0.5 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 0.5 tsp salt

Blend again. Reheat very gently so the cream doesn’t separate. Serve, garnished with the reserved prawns and maybe some chopped chives or parsley.