Crab and Fennel Stew

Meaty crab legs are cooked in their shells in a fragrant tomato-based broth in this robust stew, which first appeared in our December 2013 issue along with Corey Arnold’s article Polar Harvest.

Crab and Fennel Stew Crab and Fennel Stew
For this robust stew meaty crab legs are cooked in their shells in a fragrant tomato-based broth.
Yield: serves 4-6


  • 14 cup olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 3 ribs celery, thinly sliced
  • 2 large shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 large bulb fennel, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 14 cup dry white wine
  • 3 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp. finely chopped thyme
  • 1 tsp. piment d’Espelette
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 cups fish or chicken stock
  • 1 (28-oz.) can whole peeled tomatoes in juice, crushed by hand
  • 2 lb. precooked king or snow crab legs, defrosted if frozen and cut into 3″ pieces
  • 2 tbsp. roughly chopped basil
  • 2 bunches roughly chopped parsley
  • Country bread, for serving (optional)


  1. Heat oil in an 8-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic, celery, shallots, fennel, salt, and pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 10 minutes Add wine; cook until reduced by half, 1–2 minutes. Stir in tomato paste, thyme, piment d’Espelette, and bay leaves; cook, stirring, until slightly caramelized, about 3 minutes. Add stock and tomatoes; boil. Reduce heat to medium; cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce is slightly thick, 15–20 minutes. Stir in crab; cook until shells are bright red and meat is tender, 2–3 minutes. Discard bay leaves. Stir in basil and parsley; serve with bread, if you like.