When I originally wrote this recipe a huge banner over my local health food chain proclaimed it to be "crab season", which got my creative juices flowing, although inside the store the price per pound was less than inviting: 35 USD/pound for lump Dungeoness Crab meat (separated). I purchased the smallest amount I thought I could cook with and prayed my roasted artichokes would step up to their daunting task and serve as a satisfying star of the dish alongside the figurative scene chewer--fresh crab meat. If you also live in a place with extremely expensive crab meat I suggest structuring the soup the same way I have and perhaps planning to serve it while entertaining, since the finished product is impressive and not inexpensive to make! If you live in an area where crabs are abundant and cheap I suggest flipping the main ingredients and googling how to make crab stock. Had I "world enough and time" (to make the hour plus drive to the area where an abundance of small family seafood markets drive the price of crabs down to a more manageable one) I would have made the dish this way; sadly, seafood prices in my area are conspiring against this possibility.
Roasting the artichokes in lemon infused olive oil and serving the finished soup with droplets of the infused oil really allowed the flavor of the artichokes to shine. The parmesan crisps also added a sort of golden umami--a richness and depth of flavor. I used Ina Garten's recipe for the crisps, which can be found here: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/parmesan-crisps-recipe/index.html (thank you, Ina--you rock!)
Roasted Artichoke Bisque with Spicy Crab Meat and Lemon Infused Olive Oil
Makes 4 - 6 servings
3 Tablespoons lemon-infused olive oil, plus >1 Teaspoon for drizzling*
3 globe artichokes or 4 violetta artichokes (globe tend to be larger), cleaned, trimmed and halved (leave on the stems, but trim off the dried up ends; face them, essentially)
1/4 lb. jumbo lump crab meat
1/2 Teaspoon sriracha
1/4 Teaspoon smoked paprika1/4 Teaspoon regular paprika
1 bay leaf
6 black peppercorns, gently crushed
1 sprig fresh thyme, just the leaves stripped from the stems
1/2 Teaspoon sriracha, or hot pepper sauce of choice
Juice of 1/2 lemon
4 Tablespoons butter
1 shallot, pureed
1 small yellow onion, finely diced
1 leaf of fennel bulb, pureed
1/2 cup mirepoix
(Optional) 1/2 a baby leek, cleaned and sliced finely
2 cups vegetable stock or water
1/2 cup heavy cream
1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Faranheit. In a wide pot of boiling water squeeze lemon juice and parboil cleaned, trimmed artichokes for 5 minutes. Remove artichokes from water, toss in 3 Tablespoons infused olive oil and roast in hot oven for about 30 minutes, or until outer leaves fall away from the stem with little resistance, when tugged, or when the flesh of the heart is fork-tender. Since you'll be pureeing the artichoke flesh, you'll want them to be slightly overcooked when they're done roasting. Remove leaves and set aside to cool. If you can keep from scraping the delicious artichoke from the leaves they make a cute garnish. Set artichokes aside to cool. When artichokes have cooled, remove hair from chokes with the tip of a spoon and set artichokes aside.
2. Melt 2 Tablespoons of the butter and 2 - 3 drops of infused olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot (this will be your soup pot) and add fennel, mirepoix, shallot, optional leek, 1/2 bay leaf, thyme leaves and half of the crushed peppercorns. Sautee over medium heat until tender. Remove the half bay leaf.
3. Puree cooled artichokes and add to pan with mirepoix & etc. Add in vegetable stock and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and add cream and turn heat off when the cream has reached the same temp as the other ingredients and is incorporated. Taste and add additional salt, if needed and freshly ground black pepper.
4. To finish soup: in a smaller heavy-bottomed saucepan pan melt the remaining butter along with 2 - 3 drops of the infused olive oil over medium heat. Add paprika, smoked paprika, half a bay leaf and the other half of the peppercorns. Stir to coat and cook for 90 seconds to toast spices. Mix in sriracha, then add crabmeat and stir to coat. Cook until crabmeat is heated though, less than 4 minutes, then remove the half bay leaf. Ladle bisque into bowls and top with 1/4 to 1/6 of the spicy crabmeat (depending upon how large a serving you want). Rest parmesan crisps vertically along the edges of the bowl (see photo), or use them however you like as garnish. Drizzle each bowl with just a few drops of lemon infused olive oil and serve.
I hope you enjoy this recipe and I welcome your feedback!
*the kitchn has an excellent article on how to make infused olive oils, which can be found here: http://www.thekitchn.com/fancy-flavors-how-to-infuse-ol-103225; I accomplished mine the quick 'n' dirty way, by adding lemon zest to a lovely Italian extra virgin olive oil I had on hand (this method won't keep for more than 24 hours, so if you're planning to use this oil for more than one recipe I suggest going about it the traditional way, as in the link above).