2 tbsp olive plus extra for serving
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
A pinch of saffron
3 tbsp brandy ( this adds flavour but you can omit if desired)
1l good-quality fish stock (or make your own if using a whole crab - see tip, below)
100ml double cream
1 lemon zest , plus a squeeze of juice
2 slices white bread, crusts removed, cut into croutons
Step 1: Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saucepan. Now add the diced onion, carrot, fennel and the bay leaves. Add a pinch of salt and cook this for 10 minutes until everything is tender. Put in the garlic and cook for one more minute mixing well. Now stir in the tomato purée for another minute. Everything should be mixed well. Add the 100g of brown crabmeat (just the brown), saffron, brandy (this is optional) and some pepper, stirring until the brandy has bubbled away. Add the litre of fish stock and stir until smooth. Cover with a lid and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.
Step 2: Using a hand blender, blitz this mixture until smooth removing all lumps. 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 minutes – 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.
Heat your oven to 200C. Toss the croutons with the remaining oil, the lemon zest and some black pepper on a baking tray. Bake for 10 minutes. Turn them halfway through. Take them out when they are crisp and golden. Leave them to one side to cool. Then store them in a plastic container until you are ready to serve. Both the croutons and soup can be made up to 1 day ahead of time before eating.
Re-heat the soup and divide between shallow soup bowls. Spoon roughly equal mounds 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.