Crab Bisque with Orange & Fennel

Fair warning, guys: this recipe is epic. It’s an indulgent, comforting dish, full of beautiful sparkling flavours – the richness of the crab is balanced by the subtle, almost floral flavour of the fennel and a bit of zip and zing from the freshly-squeezed orange juice. It’s very pretty too, because the end result is the most gorgeous coral colour – so it’s perfect for a dinner party (just don’t tell your guests how easy it is to prepare).


1 onion
1 bulb of fennel
1 carrot
2 large cloves of garlic
2 tbsp tomato puree
120g crab meat (tinned is fine)
A pinch of saffron
1l fish stock
100ml double cream
50ml freshly-squeezed orange juice

Serves 2, or 4 as a starter

Pull off the fennel fronds and set aside for garnish. Finely chop the onion, fennel, carrot and garlic, and then melt a good-sized scoop of butter in a saucepan and get them frying gently. My golden rule for soups is that they should always be made with butter – since they’re usually packed with veg, I think that pretty much cancels the butter out. Add a bit more if the veg is looking at all dry.

Once the onions have softened up nicely, add the tomato puree and stir through well. Then add the crab meat, saffron and fish stock, bring to the boil, then turn the heat right down, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

When the time is up, use a hand blender to puree the vegetables until the soup is really smooth, and then pass through a sieve to remove any small bits. Stir the contents of the sieve really well to get as much liquid through as possible. Return the sieved soup to the heat and pour in the cream. Let it simmer for another five minutes, until it’s thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Finally, add the fresh orange juice and a pinch of salt (you don’t need much salt – but do taste it to make sure) and then divide between bowls and top with the reserved fennel fronds. Serve with hot sourdough toast and unsalted butter – heavenly.