Dungeness Crab & Cauliflower Soup
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For the crab stock:
Shells from 2 Dungeness crabs
1⁄2 yellow onion, sliced
1 carrot, sliced
1 celery stalk, sliced
1 bay leaf
6 fresh thyme sprigs
2 cups medium-dry white wine (such as Chardonnay)
For the soup:
1 (2-lb) head cauliflower
2 tablespoons rice oil or other neutral-flavored oil
2 yellow onions (about 1 lb total), sliced
2 cloves garlic, smashed
2 qt reserved crab stock
1 cup heavy cream
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1⁄2 teaspoon fennel seeds
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
1⁄2 lb Dungeness crabmeat, picked over for shell fragments
To make the crab stock:
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread the crab shells on a half sheet pan and roast in the oven for 15 minutes.
Transfer the crab shells to a medium pot and crush with a meat mallet. Add the onion, carrot, celery, bay leaf, thyme, wine, and 3 qt cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat, strain through a fine-mesh sieve, and let cool. Measure 2 qt for the soup; reserve the remaining stock for another use.
To make the soup:
Remove the green leaves and the bottom 1 inch of the cauliflower stem and discard. Remove 12 small florets and reserve. Thinly slice the remaining head, including the stem, and set aside.
Fill a medium pot with water, add 1 tablespoon salt, and bring to a boil over high heat. Fill a medium bowl with water and ice. Add the12 cauliflower florets to the boiling water and blanch for 1 minute. Drain immediately and plunge the florets into the ice bath to halt the cooking. As soon as the florets are cold, remove from the ice water and spread on a paper towel to dry.
In a large pot, heat the rice oil over medium heat for 1 minute. Add the onions and 1 tablespoon salt and cook, stirring often, for 3 to 5 minutes, until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the sliced cauliflower, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 8 minutes, until beginning to soften. Uncover, add the stock, cream, bay leaf, thyme, and fennel seeds, and stir to mix. Bring to a simmer and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, for about 1 hour, until the cauliflower is tender.
Remove from the heat, remove and discard the bay leaf, and let cool slightly. Working in batches, transfer the soup to a blender and process until smooth, pouring the puree into a clean medium pot as each batch is ready.
To serve: Place the soup over medium heat and bring just to a simmer. Season with salt and the lemon juice.
Place 3 blanched cauliflower florets and one-fourth each of the crabmeat and lemon zest in each individual serving bowl. Ladle the hot soup into the bowls and serve immediately.