Cornish crab bisque with lemony croutons

Go beyond your average blend with this luxurious creamy shellfish soup, flavoured with saffron, brandy and fennel

  • Prep:25 mins
    Cook:40 mins
  • Serves 4
  • Easy

Nutrition per serving

  • kcal 387
  • fat 23g
  • saturates 10g
  • carbs 14g
  • sugars 8g
  • fibre 4g
  • protein 24g
  • salt 1.8g


  • 2 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil, plus a little to serve
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 fennel bulb, fronds picked and reserved, bulb chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 200g crabmeat (half brown meat, half white meat) or 1 medium whole crab
  • pinch of saffron
  • 3 tbsp brandy
  • 1l good-quality fish stock (or make your own if using a whole crab - see tip, below)
  • 100ml double cream
  • zest 1 lemon, plus a squeeze of juice
  • 2 slices white bread, crusts removed, cut into croutons


Using fresh crab

If you can get a fresh crab, it will make a delicious stock. Boil the crab in 2 litres of water (or enough to cover the crab) for 30 mins. Remove it from the stock and leave to cool. Pick the meat from the crab, keeping the brown and white meat separate. Strain the liquid and boil until reduced to 1 litre, then use as above.


  1. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large saucepan, add the onion, fennel, carrot and bay leaves with a pinch of salt and cook for 10 mins until really tender. Add the garlic and cook for 1 min more, then stir in the tomato purée for another 1 min. Add the brown crabmeat, saffron, brandy and some pepper, stirring until the brandy has bubbled away. Add the stock and stir until smooth. Cover with a lid and simmer for 15-20 mins or until the vegetables are soft.

  2. Using a hand blender, blitz the soup until smooth. Pass the soup through a sieve back into a clean saucepan, making sure you push through as much liquid as possible. Add the cream and simmer for another 5 mins – the soup should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Add a few drops of lemon juice, taste and season or add more lemon if necessary, then chill until ready to serve.

  3. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Toss the croutons with the remaining oil, the lemon zest and some black pepper on a baking tray. Bake for 10 mins, tossing halfway through, until crisp and golden. Leave to cool, then store in a plastic container until ready to serve. The soup and croutons can be made up to 1 day ahead.

  4. To serve, reheat the soup and divide between shallow soup bowls. Spoon a mound of white crabmeat into the centre of each bowl, then drizzle with a little oil and add a few of the reserved fennel fronds. Float a few croutons on top and serve with a little extra black pepper, if you like.

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