Crab Bisque {Juneau, Alaska + Mendenhall Glacier}

This Crab Bisque is creamy and rich with sweetness from the ocean, with just a touch of spicy heat.

Crab Bisque from afarmgirlsdabbles.com

 

My husband was exhausted that evening. We had gotten to bed late the night before, and that morning our alarm rang extra early, reminding us of our adventure-filled day ahead, complete with two much anticipated shore excursions. We were in Juneau, Alaska, guests of Princess Cruises, and loving every moment of this captivating experience. And a simple Crab Bisque, warm and fragrant of the ocean, was what warmed our bodies after all the excitement was over that day. It was heavenly. You’ll find my version of this recipe here in this post, plus some photo memories from our excursion by helicopter to land on Mendenhall Glacier, such an incredible experience!
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*This post is sponsored by Princess Cruises.

Tracy's King Crab Shack meal in Juneau, Alaska from afarmgirlsdabbles.com

When our excursions had ended for the day, we were pumped with adrenaline, but our bodies were aching for rest and a warm, hearty meal. We had been going, going, going from 5 am to 4 pm, and our energy was depleted. On the recommendation from a friend who had noshed her way through Juneau in a Taste of Juneau city walking excursion, we found our way to Tracy’s King Crab Shack along the wharf. And that’s where the inspiration for this crab bisque recipe comes from.

I had no idea how popular this casual little dining spot was, made famous by seafood lovers from around the world visiting Juneau. As suggested, Blake and I ordered both the king crab bisque and the spiced king crab cakes, along with a gigantic king crab leg that I simply couldn’t resist and a cold glass of Amber from Alaskan Brewing Co. All the king crab on this trip was so crazy wonderful. And everything was so good at Tracy’s that we even went back for a second order!

Crab Bisque from afarmgirlsdabbles.com

My recipe for crab bisque is not an exact replica of Tracy’s, I outright admit. But this bisque is beautiful in its own right, creamy and packed with sweet flavor from the sea.

Crab Bisque from afarmgirlsdabbles.com

I’m not quite sure how I ever got on this kick, but I like to serve chowders (check out this New England Chowder with Salt Pork Belly) and bisques from mugs. It’s a casual, fun way to enjoy this kind of comfort meal.

Crab Bisque from afarmgirlsdabbles.com

The creamy sweetness of this crab bisque is contrasted by rich tomato depth, plus a touch of heat from smoky paprika and cayenne pepper. Serve this in mugs for casual dining or in low, wide bowls for more sophistication. And don’t forget some salty crackers or soft, warm bread.

Crab Bisque

Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients:


  • 4 T. unsalted butter

  • 1/2 c. minced shallots

  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced

  • 1/4 c. flour

  • 6 c. seafood stock

  • 1-1/2 c. heavy cream

  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt

  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

  • 1  14.5-oz. can fire roasted tomatoes

  • 1/3 c. tomato paste

  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika

  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

  • 3/4 to 1 lb. fresh or thawed frozen lump crab meat

  • 1/4 c. dry sherry, or dry white wine

  • 1/3 c. minced fresh parsley


Directions:

In a large soup pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Add shallots and garlic, and sauté until very soft, stirring regularly for 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in flour and cook, stirring regularly, for 2 minutes. Slowly pour in 1 cup of the broth, whisking all the while to break up any clumping. Then pour in the remaining broth and whisk again to incorporate.


Turn heat up a bit to medium-high and bring broth to a boil. Then turn heat down to medium and simmer for 15 minutes. Add cream and bay leaf, and bring mixture back to simmering, stirring and scraping the pan bottom occasionally. Stir in fire roasted tomatoes and tomato paste, and then very carefully blend the mixture with an immersion blender until very smooth. Stir in paprika and cayenne pepper.


Reduce heat to medium-low and stir in the crab meat. Cook until heated through, about 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in the sherry and heat for another 2 to 3 minutes. Taste, adding more salt and pepper if needed. Ladle into bowls or mugs and garnish with fresh parsley, plus a sprinkle of smoked paprika and freshly ground black pepper. Serve with oyster crackers or soft rolls.


Heavily adapted from Williams-Sonoma.


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Juneau, Alaska + Mendenhall Glacier from afarmgirlsdabbles.com

This excursion was our second of the day. Our first one took place earlier than “bright and early” would mean to most people. With sleep in our eyes, we disembarked the Ruby Princess to travel the next six hours in a much smaller catamaran through Tracy Arm Fjord. Our captain got us up close to Sawyer Glacier, one of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring scenes I’ve ever witnessed. We saw umpteen cascades falling from high in the snow-capped mountains, plus eagles, seals, and even a bear and a far-off whale. And that electric blue ice floating in the emerald green water…that’s a vision I shall never forget. You can read more about our excursion here.

Ruby Princess from afarmgirlsdabbles.com

And then, as soon as this excursion was over, a new one was set to begin. We hustled through the buffet line in the Ruby Princess, grabbing a quick bite of sustenance, and then disembarked once more, this time our feet on the ground of Juneau, Alaska.

Fun Fact: Juneau is the most geographically secluded state capital in the U.S., the only one that cannot be reached by car. Because it is surrounded by such rugged terrain, this town is only accessible by boat or plane.

We were then whisked off to the helicopter pad, in anticipation of our second excursion of the day: riding in a helicopter to land on Mendenhall Glacier at a dogsled camp.

Juneau, Alaska + Mendenhall Glacier from afarmgirlsdabbles.com

Our helicopter rose up above Juneau, through the low clouds and a brief encounter with rain, streaking wetness wildly across the domed glass of our windshield. This was my first helicopter experience, and it was such a thrill!

Shown above is a shot of our first sighting of Mendenhall Glacier, where it spills out in liquid form, retreating and shrinking into Mendenhall Lake below.

Juneau, Alaska + Mendenhall Glacier from afarmgirlsdabbles.com

Flying over the glacier, you couldn’t help but be mesmerized by the foreign landscape. It was the most amazing frosted blue color and deeply cut with crevasses, I can’t imagine how deep.

Juneau, Alaska + Mendenhall Glacier from afarmgirlsdabbles.com

Our vantage point from the sky afforded us a fantastic overall view of the dogsled camp, a miniature city laid out in lanes of kennels and tents.

Juneau, Alaska + Mendenhall Glacier from afarmgirlsdabbles.com

We landed right on Mendenhall Glacier, a thirteen-mile-long river of ice that is almost 2000 feet deep.

Juneau, Alaska + Mendenhall Glacier from afarmgirlsdabbles.com

Juneau, Alaska + Mendenhall Glacier from afarmgirlsdabbles.com

The cloud ceiling was heavy that day, like a hazy white weight suspended above us, enclosing us inside this snow-covered mountain cove. The overcast skies shrouded everything from ground to sky in a steely bluish tint.

Each summer, 19 people call this camp home, only returning to Juneau once a week by helicopter to take a proper shower.

Juneau, Alaska + Mendenhall Glacier from afarmgirlsdabbles.com

The camp has a dedicated kitchen tent with a full time cook.

Juneau, Alaska + Mendenhall Glacier from afarmgirlsdabbles.com

And their refrigerator is a box with the floor cut out, letting the food rest directly on the icy snow below.

Juneau, Alaska + Mendenhall Glacier from afarmgirlsdabbles.com

But the main attraction here is canine. During the summer months, this camp is the training grounds for 280 Alaska Huskies, the very friendly dogs that have made the Iditarod Dog Race famous. Blake made fast friends with Phoenix (white) and Tahoe (black), a sister and brother duo who run with the same sled.

Juneau, Alaska + Mendenhall Glacier from afarmgirlsdabbles.com

We took turns standing on the back to mush and sitting in the sled, just relaxing and taking in the amazingness of it all. The scene was vast and almost completely black and white (and blue). It was also supremely quiet, almost eerily so, even amidst the non-stop barking.

Juneau, Alaska + Mendenhall Glacier from afarmgirlsdabbles.com

Juneau, Alaska + Mendenhall Glacier from afarmgirlsdabbles.com

This photo puts the magnitude of size into proportion. That fuzzy little line on the horizon is the dog sled camp as we were returning from our ride atop the snow.

Juneau, Alaska + Mendenhall Glacier from afarmgirlsdabbles.com

Our departure from Juneau that evening was bittersweet. Such a quaint town, steeped in gold rush history and nestled at the bottom of Mount Juneau, clinging to its sides via hilly streets and winding staircases. But we were due to arrive by morning at Skagway, our northernmost port on this journey, so good-byes were inevitable. Do stay tuned for more.

 

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Be sure to follow along on Pinterest for more travel ideas. And for more on our trip to Alaska with Princess Cruises, check out these posts:

 

Disclaimer: Blake and I were extremely honored to be guests of Princess Cruises on a recent 7-day Alaska Cruise, and grateful for the opportunity to share it all with you. Thank you for supporting us and the brands we so carefully choose to work with. All of the experiences in this post are personal to our week in Alaska. Your experiences may vary. All opinions expressed are our own.