Add some spicy pepper jack into the mix to kick up your creamy crab soup. Pepper jack cheese, which is Monterey Jack cheese that’s studded with chili peppers, melts smoothly and thickens the soup without any need for flour to make a roux. The spiciness of the peppers breaks up the richness of the soup, creating a delicious twist on an elegant classic.
Because crabmeat is the star of the show, do not use imitation crab. Most markets carry several types of crab, including jumbo lump, which is one of the priciest options. Special crabmeat has a lower price tag and smaller pieces, although its flavor is comparable to jumbo lump. Claw meat is darker and stronger flavored. If you're looking to maintain a luxurious flavor and texture without breaking the bank, try adding a small amount of lump or jumbo lump, while using special or claw meat for the majority of the recipe. For the freshest flavor, choose fresh rather than pasteurized crabmeat whenever possible.
Choosing the Cheese
To prevent pre-shredded cheese from clumping together in the package, most manufacturers add extra ingredients such as potato starch and powdered cellulose. These extras can affect the way the cheese melts into your soup. For best results, shred the pepper jack right before you’re ready to use it with a box grater or a food processor. Keep in mind the heat of the peppers varies among brands, so use your favorite or take a nibble first to make sure it suits your palate.
Keeping the ingredients list short allows the flavors of the main ingredients to shine through. The zesty spice of the pepper jack complements the slightly sweet flavor of the crab and cuts the richness of the cream. You also may choose to dress the soup up a bit with some aromatic vegetables such as onion, celery and garlic or extra seasonings such as seafood seasoning or fresh parsley. Gather your ingredients, including butter and cream, half-and-half or milk.
Making the Soup
Grab a heavy bottomed pot and melt some butter over medium heat. Saute minced onion or other aromatic vegetables if you're using them, until the veggies are tender. Add the cream and stir the mixture until it just begins to boil. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the crabmeat, using approximately 1 pound of crabmeat for every 2 quarts of cream. Simmer for approximately 20 minutes, stirring periodically, before adding shredded pepper jack cheese. Stir the soup until the cheese melts completely. If the soup becomes thicker than you want, add a little extra cream to thin it to your desired consistency.
- The Southern Cook Book of Fine Old Recipes; Lillie S. Lustig, S. Claire Sondheim, Sarah Rensel, Ed.
- Fine Cooking: Crabmeat
- Serious Eats: Taste Test -- The Best Pepper Jack Cheese
- KCET: Pre-Shredded Versus Freshly Grated Cheese -- What's the Difference?
Caryn Anderson combines extensive behind-the-scenes writing experience with her passion for all things food, fashion, garden and travel. Bitten by the travel bug at the age of 15 after a trip to Europe, Anderson fostered her love of style and fashion while living in New York City and earning her degree at New York University.