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Thai-Style Hot and Sour Blue Crab Soup

Updated February 23, 2016
This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

Getting the meat out of East Coast blue crabs may require more effort for people, myself among them, who lack the necessary dexterity and determination, than is justified by the result. It is, no doubt, for the likes of us that there’s a market for frightfully expensive crab meat. But there are few things as luxurious as eating chunky pieces of crab with a fork or spoon, with no shells anywhere in sight. It was with this in mind that I thought up this soup (although there must be others like it), imagining the crab accented by the tang of lime juice and the lemony flavor of kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass. You can, of course, make the broth with fresh live crabs (see Blue Crab Soup with Picada), which will give the soup a much deeper flavor of crab, but unless you’re an expert crab picker, I recommend being a little extravagant and using lump crab meat.

Makes6 first-course servings

CostModerate

Easy

Total Timeunder 30 minutes

One Pot MealYes

OccasionCasual Dinner Party

Recipe Coursehot appetizer

Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, lactose-free, low carb, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free

Mealdinner

Taste and Texturecreamy, herby, hot & spicy, savory, tangy

Type of Dishhot soup

Ingredients

  • 1 pound fresh lump crab meat
  • 2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 4 Thai chilies or 6 small jalapeno chilies, steamed, seeded, and finely chopped
  • 1 stalk of lemongrass, white part sliced as thin as possible
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves (optional)
  • 3¼-inch-thick slices fresh or frozen galangal (optional)
  • ¼ cup lime juice or more to taste
  • ¼ cup Thai fish sauce or more to taste
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 3 cups chicken broth or crab broth (see headnote)
  • 1 15-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
  • Salt (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped cilantro leaves

Instructions

SORT through the crab meat and remove any pieces of shell.

COMBINE all the ingredients except the crab and cilantro and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt, more fish sauce (Thai dishes that taste under-salted often need fish sauce instead of salt), and/or more lime juice. The soup should have a distinct tang.

Immediately before serving, bring the soup to a boil over high heat and stir in the crab meat and the cilantro. Leave the crab meat over the heat for just 1 minute more to heat through. Serve immediately in hot bowls.

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