At the downtown DC restaurant Acadiana, chef Jeff Tunks’s down-home Lousiana cooking brings a little bit of the bayou to the Beltway. His sweet-corn-and-crab soup—made with jumbo-lump crab, roasted corn, and spicy chipotle peppers—hits all the comfort-food notes. “It’s rich, creamy, sweet, smoky, and spicy,” says Tunks, who spent years behind the stoves at the famed Windsor Court Hotel in New Orleans. “It just tastes so damn good.”
Some diners clearly agree—we got two separate requests for this recipe—but they’re not the only ones who have been won over. The corn-and-crab soup is also a bestseller at Reston’s PassionFish, the latest addition to Tunks’s Passion Food Hospitality group.
Though we’ve included the recipe for homemade crab stock, Tunks says store-bought stock—crab, lobster, shrimp, or seafood—works fine, too. If corn is out of season, use frozen instead of fresh.
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Makes 4 servings.
Make the crab stock:
2 pounds crab shells, broken into 1-inch pieces
2 quarts water
1 onion, chopped
1 cup chopped celery
2 tablespoons parsley
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 whole bay leaf
5 whole peppercorns
Place the shells into a deep saucepan, cover with the water, and set over medium-high heat. As the water begins to heat, skim the foam away and discard it. Keep the temperature at just below boiling. When foam no longer forms, add the remaining ingredients (you can add the spices in a cheesecloth bag for easy removal, but it isn’t necessary). When the broth has simmered for a minimum of 1 hour, take it off the heat. Strain the liquid of all chunky ingredients and reserve.
Make the soup:
1 pound butter
½ cup medium-diced onions
½ cup medium-diced celery
½ cup medium-diced red bell peppers
1 cup fresh sweet-corn kernels
½ cup chopped green onions
1 tablespoon plus ¾ teaspoon flour
2 chipotle peppers, finely chopped
2 quarts crab stock
1 quart heavy cream
2 bay leaves
Salt and white pepper to taste
For the optional garnish:
1 pound jumbo-lump crab meat
2 ounces chopped green onions
Heat the butter in a large saucepan set over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, bell peppers, corn, and green onion, and sauté until the vegetables are translucent and the corn is bright yellow, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the flour. Turn the flame to medium-low and cook the mixture for 15 minutes, stirring with a whisk so the mixture doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
Add the chipotle peppers and cook for another minute. Add 1⁄3 of the crab stock, whisking to combine and to keep lumps from forming. Add the remaining crab stock, cream, and bay leaves. Whisk the soup until combined. Using a spoon, stir until it comes to a simmer. Turn the heat to low and allow the soup to simmer for 20 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the bay leaves. Season with salt and white pepper to taste. Ladle soup into 4 bowls, and if desired, garnish each with ¼ of the crabmeat and the green onions. Serve immediately.
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