This recipe for caldo de cangrejo y limón (or "crab and lime soup") was inspired by delicious crab tostadas my sister Chris treated me to at a popular restaurant in L.A. Besides the crab tostadas, the shrimp ceviche was to die for! It was my kind of place, with a nice selection of hot sauce and plenty of lime to go around. A friend asked me once if I add lime to all my Mexican-inspired foods, ha! Well, when you know what you like, you stick with it.
But seriously, I think that most savory foods need a balance of spices, sweet, salty and a little acid, whether it’s in a citrus form or vinegar. I unfortunately do not live in an area known for fresh crab, so I took a little help from the local market and purchased a couple of packages of claw crab meat. The crab meat is already cooked and comes in lump or claw meat. The claw meat is less expensive but works well for this soup recipe. If I were preparing crab cakes, I would have chosen the lump crab meat. If you need this recipe for a quick weeknight meal, you could take a large can of fire-roasted tomatoes, blend and strain as directed and you will have dinner on the table in no time!
For the Soup
1½pounds Roma tomatoes quartered
1/2small white onion chopped
3cloves garlic sliced
2-3 jalapeños or fresno or serrano peppers, seeded and sliced
1 chicken and tomato-flavored bouillon cube
1½tablespoons olive oil
Juice of 6 key limes or 3 regular limes
2 bay leaves
1/2pound summer squash or chayote, sliced into small chunks
In the blender, combine the tomato, onion, garlic, jalapeño and 2 cups of water. Blend on high until smooth and strain using a wire-mesh strainer. Discard the solids left behind, set aside. In a large pot, preheat 1½ tablespoons of olive oil to medium heat for 2 minutes. Pour in the tomato mixture from blender. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.
In a small pot, at medium heat, add the remaining 2 cups of water with bouillon and cook just until dissolved. Add to the tomato mixture in larger pot. Add the lime juice, bay leaves and taste for salt. Cook for 10 minutes at a low simmer.
Add in the squash, hominy and crab meat and continue cooking for another 5 minutes. Finally add the cabbage, cilantro and salt and pepper to taste. I like my cabbage to still be slightly firm, so I remove the pot from heat, cover and let sit fro 10 minutes. Garnish with more lime, fresh cabbage, avocado and crushed red pepper flakes. Serve with warm corn tortillas or chips.
Fresh blended tomatoes are delicious in any soup base. You can add even more flavor by roasting the tomatoes before blending.
If you are concerned with the added sodium or other ingredients typically found in bouillon, the stores carry a nice selection of low-sodium and MSG-free products as well.
When given a choice on using key limes or regular limes, I choose key limes. The flavor is so much more! That is the lime of choice through out Mexico and adds just the right amount of acidity.