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Chef Chuck Draghi of Alcove in Boston has been a fan of cooking with local green crabs since he first encountered them, and he’s a pioneer of helping develop culinary interest in the species. Since he put this bisque on his menu last summer, it’s been a top seller.
Draghi added the dish to his menu in honor of Mike Furlong, a pioneer of green crab harvesting and promotion who was lost at sea. In addition to the environmental benefits of eating this invasive species, he appreciates the culinary perks of green crabs. Because they are so flavorful, you only need about half as much green crab to make a bisque as you would lobster bodies, making this a cheaper alternative to a classic dish without losing any character.
Sautee the whole crabs in the olive oil over medium heat, crushing the shells with a wooden kitchen spoon as you go, and getting as much caramelization from the proteins as you can. (NOTE: Lots of caramelization is the key to a rich, flavorful bisque.)
Add the vegetables and spices (except the saffron) and continue sautéing until the vegetables have lightly browned, constantly scraping the bottom of the pan with the spoon.
Add the sherry and white wine, and simmer for a few minutes to burn off the alcohol.
Add the herbs, tomato paste, rice, and enough water to cover the crab shells by 2 inches. Simmer for 30-45 minutes.
In a blender on high speed, blend all of the soup solids and broth until it forms a thick, chunky mixture.
Run the pureed soup through a fine mesh sieve to remove all pieces of shell and spices.
Add saffron to the warm soup, and let it set for at least 30 minutes.
Serve with crème fraiche and chopped tarragon, or parsley.