Fennel Soup with Crab & Pistou

Serves 6
By: John Besh

I serve this light, creamy soup cold over a little crabmeat salad. At home, I use lump blue crabmeat.

For the Soup:
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 leek, chopped
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 large fennel bulb, chopped
1 large yellow potato, peeled and chopped
1 bay leaf
5 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup cream
Freshly ground black pepper
1 medium tomato, peeled and diced
2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
4 ounces lump jumbo blue crabmeat
Fresh basil sprigs

For the Pistou:
Handful fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled
Pinch of grated Parmesan cheese

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Add the leeks, garlic, fennel and potatoes, and cook until the leeks and fennel are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the bay leaf, chicken stock and cream, and simmer until the potatoes are very tender, about 25 minutes. Discard the bay leaf. Transfer the soup to a blender and blend until very smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Toss the tomatoes in a medium bowl with the sherry vinegar and the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

To make the Pistou, purée the basil, olive oil, and garlic in a blender, then stir in the Parmesan.

Divide the tomatoes, crab, and basil sprigs among 6 soup bowls and ladle in the soup. Drizzle each bowl with the Pistou.