Crab, lobster and prawn shells going in the bin is such a crime you can get a good litre or so of soup or stock out of them that you can’t just go out and buy. I normally thicken my shellfish soups with either flour, as below, or rice (use the same quantities of pudding rice as flour).
The shells from a 1kg crab or lobster, broken into small pieces
1tbsp vegetable oil
1 small onion, peeled and roughly chopped
1 small leek, trimmed and roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
½tsp fennel seeds
A few sprigs of thyme
1 bay leaf
2tbsp tomato purée
1 glass of white wine
2 litres fish stock, or a couple of good fish-stock cubes in that amount of hot water
100ml double cream
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
Heat the vegetable oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan and fry the crab shells over a high heat for about five minutes, stirring every so often until they begin to colour. Add the onion, leek, garlic, fennel seeds, thyme and bay leaf, and continue cooking for another five minutes or so, until the vegetables begin to colour.
Add the butter and stir well, then add the tomato purée and flour, stir well and cook for a minute or so over a low heat. Add the white wine, then slowly add the fish stock, stirring to avoid any lumps. Bring to the boil, season with salt and pepper, and simmer for one hour.
Drain the soup, shells and all, in a colander over a bowl, stirring them so that any small pieces go into the liquid. Remove about one-third of the softer white body shells (not the very hard claw and main shell) and put them in with the liquid-discard the rest. Blend the shells and liquid in a liquidiser or strong food processor until smooth, then strain through a fine-meshed sieve.
Return to a clean pan, season with a little salt and pepper if necessary, and bring to the boil. To serve, add the cream and any remaining crab meat. Adjust the seasoning again, if necessary, and stir well.
Crab and summer vegetable salad
60g shelled weight of peas
100g young broad beans, podded
A handful of marsh samphire, trimmed of any woody stalks
4 or 5 mangetouts, finely shredded
65g small salad leaves and pea shoots
150g-180g white crab meat
10-12 chives, cut into 4cm-5cm lengths
For the dressing
1tbsp good-quality white wine vinegar, such as chardonnay
3tbsp olive oil
2tbsp vegetable or corn oil
½tsp caster sugar
A couple of mint leaves
5 or 6 tarragon leaves
Salt and black pepper
Cook the peas and broad beans in salted boiling water in separate pans until just tender, then drain, refresh briefly in cold water to stop the cooking and drain again. Blanch the samphire for 30 seconds, then drain.
Make the dressing by briefly blending all of the ingredients in a liquidiser and season to taste. Mix a spoonful or so of the dressing with the drained peas, beans, samphire and mangetout, and season with salt and pepper.
Arrange the salad leaves and vegetables on plates, scatter the crab over them and spoon on a little more dressing, and finish by scattering the chives on top.
Mark Hix’s new book, ‘Hix Oyster & Chop House’, will be available from Quadrille at £25 from July 2