Cooking Our Favorite Restaurant Dishes at Home
It’s cold and rainy outside. You’re damp and grumpy. The massive burger you had for dinner last night is but a distant memory. The remedy for your soggy winter blues? Parsnip soup.
A recent visit to Craftbar has Gothamist believing that a piping hot bowl of creamy, velvety parsnip soup is the perfect expression of a winter comfort food. An unsexy ingredient with a bad rap, parsnip is anything but boring. Its sweet and creamy texture is an unexpected yet perfect foil for a pile of luscious, delicate crabmeat and a few bites of crunchy apple.
The Craftbar version of this dish was excellent, but a little heavy on the butter and a little light on the crab. In order to make the soup a main course for a recent dinner at home, Gothamist piled on the lump crab meat and added another touch of sweetness and texture to the dish with a dice of fresh mango.
And keep your head up - it’s almost asparagus season.
Parsnip Crab Soup
vegetable stock, fresh apple and mango
The key to this dish lies in two areas : 1) the stock and 2) the quality of crab you purchase. You’ll hurt Gothamist's feelings if you buy canned stock. If you must, then do it. If you aren’t sure, make this veggie stock. It’s not only exceedingly better and healthier, but it keeps in the freezer for future use.
Ingredient Shopping List
Recipe serves two to three people.
8 oz lump crab meat
3 large or 4-5 medium parsnips (or 1 lb)
1 stick unsalted butter
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
6 cups vegetable stock (recipe below or be lame and buy canned)
1 ripe mango
1 red apple
extra virgin olive oil
For veggie stock:
4 large carrots
4 celery stalks
1 large white onion (2 stalks of leeks would be a great replacement)
1 whole fennel
1 head garlic
Dried bay leaves
Estimated cost of ingredients: $30 at Fairway
Food processor/hand blender and fine mesh strainer if making stock.
Notes on Buying Crab
Low end crab (read imitation crab, frozen crab, expired crab) is terrible. Spend the extra cash to get lump. The crab should be in a clear container. If not, open it and check it out before buying. There should be big, clear chunks of crab, pale white in color and an obvious plump, firm texture. The container should not be overly watery. Check the expiration date. Gothamist likes the crab at Citarella best.
Make the Stock
Chop the carrot, celery, onion into a large dice. Cut the fennel bulb away from the stalk. Remove outer layer of fennel bulb. Remove the bottom core. Rough chop fennel bulb. Rough chop about one handful of the fennel fronds from top of fennel and reserve for the stock. Take 4-5 cloves of garlic out of their paper.
Drizzle olive oil into a large pot and turn on to medium heat. After a minute, add all of the vegetables to the pot. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, stirring to coat. Sautee gently, until veggies are getting soft and releasing their juices but do not brown (about 2 minutes). Add tablespoon whole peppercorn, 2 bay leaves and stir. After another minute, add cold water to the pot until the water barely covers the top of the veggies.
Keep the heat at medium and cover. Try not to boil as this makes the stock cloudy. Take off the top after 10 minutes and simmer for another 20 minutes, skimming occasionally to remove any foam that rises to the surface.
Remove from the heat and strain through a fine mesh strainer into a clean pot and place back on the stove. (The stock can be frozen for up to 3 months.) Place on medium heat for the below crab preparation.
Make the Crab
The method here is to steam the crab lightly while your stock reduces.
Take the crab form the container and place into a mesh strainer in sink. Pick through crab and make sure there are not random pieces of shell. Do so without breaking the nice clumps into small pieces.
Take the strainer and place it on top of your simmering pot of stock. The strainer should sit on the top of the pot comfortably and there should not be any liquid coming close to touching the bottom of the crab while in strainer. Steam for about 3 minutes. Take strainer off pot and gently mix the crab so that the crab on bottom of strainer is now on top of pile. Place back on pot and steam again for another 2-3 minutes. The whole crab pile should be hot and just warmed through.
Place crab in bowl and add two glugs of olive oil and about 1 tablespoon chopped chives. Salt and pepper. Mix very gently. Reserve at room temp for up to twenty minutes.
Prep Apple and Mango
Wash apple. Slice the apple in half. Remove core and seeds. Working with half the apple, slice into matchsticks and then a small dice. Cover in cold water so it doesn’t brown. Reserve. Peel the mango. Turn the mango and slice the flesh off one side, leaving pit in center. Cut long strips from this flesh and then a small dice. Reserve.
Make the Parsnip Soup
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Get your pot of stock to a simmer.
Peel the skins off the parsnips and cut lengthwise into quarters. Drop them into the boiling water and let cook until soft and tender, about 4 minutes.
Drain the water from the pot and reserve the parsnips. Immediately place them back into the pot in which you boiled them. If using a food processor or blender, put parsnips directly into this tool instead. Add two tablespoons of butter to parsnips. Add pinch of salt and pepper. Ladle two servings of the stock into the parsnip and blend with hand blender/food processor. Stop and add two more ladles of stock and puree again. Add a final two more ladles of stock and puree again until very smooth. Add more stock depending on how loose you’d like the soup. Place soup back into a small pot on stove.
Finish the Dish
Warm the soup and check for seasoning. Ladle soup into a bowl. Place a large pile of crab in center of soup. Garnish sides and top of crab with apple and mango. Enjoy!