Scottish Crab Bisque (Partan Bree)

  • Serves

    serves 8

Roasted crab shells and sherry lend sweet depth to this luscious bisque from chef Michael Smith of the Three Chimneys restaurant on Scotland's Isle of Skye. This recipe first appeared in the 2012 SAVEUR 100, with the article Three Chimneys.

Find this recipe in our cookbook, SAVEUR: Soups and Stews


  • 4 lb. cooked Dungeness or blue crabs, meat removed from bodies and legs and finely chopped, shells broken into large chunks
  • 6 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 large yellow onions (1 thinly sliced; 1 finely chopped)
  • 12 rib celery, thinly sliced
  • 14 small bulb fennel, thinly sliced
  • 34 cup roughly chopped parsley stems, plus 2 tbsp. finely chopped parsley leaves
  • 1 tsp. whole white peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 12 lemon, thinly sliced crosswise
  • 2 tbsp. brandy
  • 13 cup long-grain white rice
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp. lemon zest
  • 23 cup milk
  • 14 cup heavy cream
  • 14 cup cream sherry
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 12 tsp. paprika
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Creme fraiche, to garnish


Step 1

Heat oven to 400°. Place crab shells on a baking sheet, and bake until lightly browned, about 20 minutes; let cool. Heat 4 tbsp. butter in an 8-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat. Add sliced onion, celery, and fennel; cook, stirring, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add crab shells, parsley stems, peppercorns, bay leaves, and sliced lemon; cook for 2 minutes. Add brandy; cook 1 minute. Add 10 cups water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly reduced, about 1 hour. Pour through a fine strainer into a bowl; set crab broth aside.

Step 2

Wipe saucepan clean, return to medium-high heat, and add remaining butter. Add chopped onion; cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add rice, tomato paste, and lemon zest; cook until lightly caramelized, about 2 minutes. Add reserved crab broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook until rice is tender, about 18 minutes. Puree soup in a blender and return to saucepan over medium heat; add reserved crab meat, milk, cream, sherry, lemon juice, and paprika, and cook until meat is warmed through, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Divide soup among 8 bowls; garnish each bowl with a dollop of creme fraiche and some of the parsley leaves.

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