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Dining Tip: Red Pepper Bisque with Citrus Crab Salad

A spicy, tangy dish from chef Kelly Liken

Posted: September 2, 2013

Note: This recipe originally appeared in the July 31, 2013 issue of Wine Spectator.

• 1/2 pound lump crabmeat
• Juice of 1/2 lime
• 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
• 2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped or cut into a chiffonade
• Dash of Tabasco hot sauce
• Salt
• Cayenne pepper
• 8 red bell peppers, chopped, plus 3 whole peppers, for roasting
• 1/2 large onion, chopped
• 1/2 leek, white and light green parts chopped
• 1/2 head garlic, cloves peeled
• 1/2 rib of celery, chopped
• 1/2 cup brandy, plus more for finishing soup
• 2 quarts vegetable stock or water
• Sachet of bay leaf, thyme and peppercorns, wrapped in cheesecloth
• 2 tablespoons avocado, cut into medium dice
• Zest of 1/2 lime, for garnish

1. To make the salad, combine the crabmeat, lime juice, 2 tablespoons olive oil and cilantro. Season to taste with Tabasco, salt and cayenne. Set aside.

2. Preheat the broiler to high. Set the 3 whole red bell peppers in a pan and broil, turning often, until charred on all sides. Place the peppers in a paper bag. Close it tightly, and allow the peppers to cool for 20 to 30 minutes. Peel the skin from the peppers, remove the seeds and set aside.

3. Add 3 tablespoons olive oil to a large stock pot set over low heat, then add the chopped raw peppers, onion, leek, garlic and celery.

Allow them to cook gently, or "sweat," for at least 20 minutes, until very soft, but not browned. Pour the brandy into the pan to deglaze, increase the heat to medium, and reduce completely. Add in the vegetable stock or water, as well as the sachet of herbs, and simmer for 1 hour.

4. Add the reserved roasted peppers to the soup and puree the mixture, very carefully as it will be hot, in batches. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve, and season to taste with salt and cayenne pepper. Finish the soup with an additional dash of brandy, and keep warm.

5. To assemble, arrange avocado dice at the bottom of each of 8 soup bowls, and place the crab salad in the center. Top the salad with some of the lime zest, and pour the soup around the salad. Serves 8.

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