Crayfish soup with cider brandy

Crayfish soup with cider brandy

Hix Oyster & Chop House
Jason Lowe

The potential waste with crayfish, crabs, lobsters, and other crustaceans is pretty high if you don’t put their shells to good use. All of a sudden, expensive shellfish like these become good value once you have used the shells to make a few bowls of rich velvety soup.

I’ve added a few splashes of Julian Temperley’s Somerset cider brandy at the end here to give the soup a bit of a West Country kick.


Quantity Ingredient
shells a 1 kg crayfish, freshly cooked, any excess tail meat reserved
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 small onion, peeled and roughly chopped
1 small leek, trimmed, roughly chopped and washed
2 celery sticks, roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
pinch saffron strands
a few sprigs thyme
2 sprigs tarragon
1 bay leaf
40g butter
3 tablespoons plain flour
2 tablespoons tomato puree
1 glass white wine
1.5 litres fish stock
freshly ground white pepper
100ml double cream
a few dashes somerset cider brandy


  1. Chop up the crayfish shells. Heat the oil in a large heavy-based saucepan and add the crayfish shells with the vegetables. Fry over a high heat, stirring every so often, for about 5 minutes until they begin to colour. Add the garlic, fennel seeds, saffron, thyme, tarragon and bay leaf, and continue cooking for another 5 minutes or so.
  2. Add the butter and once it has melted, stir in the flour. Cook over a medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the mixture turns a dark sandy colour. Add the tomato purée, stir well and cook over a low heat for a minute or so. Add the wine, then slowly add the fish stock, stirring to avoid lumps. Bring to the boil, season with salt and pepper, and simmer for 1 hour.
  3. Liquidise the soup, shells and all, in a strong blender or food processor until smooth, then strain through a fine-meshed sieve into a clean pan. You’ll need to do this in batches.
  4. Bring to a simmer, then add the cream and any crayfish tail meat. Re-season if necessary and stir in the cider brandy. Serve in warmed soup plates.
Hix Oyster & Chop House
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