"I wanted to create a second course that is indulgent, rich, and pretty, too. Funny: The first time we tried this crab bisque and pureed the soup in a food processor, we almost decided to start over because the texture wasn't smooth enough. But then we put it in the blender, and it came out perfectly creamy." --Mary Drennen Ankar, Test Kitchen Professional
1 1/4 cups thinly sliced shallots (about 4 large)
1 celery stalk, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons vermouth
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 pound jumbo lump crabmeat, shell pieces removed and divided
3 cups fat-free milk
1 cup clam juice
1.5 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1/3 cup)
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
How to Make It
Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add shallots and celery to pan; cook 10 minutes or until softened, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; cook 1 minute. Stir in vermouth; cook 1 minute or until liquid evaporates. Add salt, peppers, and 8 ounces crabmeat.
Combine milk and clam juice in a large bowl. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Whisk flour into milk mixture; add to pan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Cook 1 minute or until slightly thickened, stirring constantly.
Place half of milk mixture in blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Pour into a large bowl. Repeat procedure with remaining milk mixture. Return pureed mixture to pan. Stir in cream; cook over medium heat 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated.
Combine the remaining 8 ounces crabmeat, chives, and lemon juice in a medium bowl. Top soup with the crabmeat mixture.
Wine note: If there's ever a time to pull out a good chardonnay, it's when crab is on the table. The wine's lush apple fruit loves the sweet shellfish, and if you pick a wine with an edge of creamy citrus, it works like a twist of lemon. Napa Valley's 2007 Antica Chardonnay ($35), from Italy's Antinori family, is your bottle for the Crab Bisque, with crisp citrus and bracing herbs balancing its sweet fruit. --Sara Schneider