Did I ever mention it snowed down here in the 70's? Nobody believes me, but it did. Didn't stick, of course, but we had flurries. I was driving the kids to school when it started. Snow wasn't new to us because we had lived in Michigan for years, but you should have heard the commotion from kids who had never seen it before.
Anyway, it's perfect weather for soup - something I don't say very often. My sister to the rescue! She has a simple but delicious recipe for a Seafood Chowder which I love. Sharon is the master soup-maker in the family....she has an endless supply of hearty, delicious soup recipes and this is yet another winner. Frankly, I think it comes from living in the north country and she loves soup every day for lunch. I like this particular soup because it takes no time at all, you can freeze it and you can use any kind of crabmeat, including imitation crabmeat. In fact, I think this soup is better with the imitation crab. Certainly cheaper.
Here's the skinny on imitation crabmeat:
The processing of imitation crabmeat begins with the skinning and boning of (usually) Alaska Pollock. Then the meat is minced and rinsed, and the water is leached out. This creates a thick paste called surimi. The word means "minced fish" in Japanese, and the essential techniques for making it were developed in Japan over 800 years ago. Surimi is commonly used in Japan to make a type of fish ball or cake called kamaboko. In 1975, a method for processing imitation crabmeat from surimi was invented in Japan, and in 1983, American companies started production. Many ingredients are added to the surimi to give it a stable form, appealing texture, and crab-like flavor. Sugar, sorbitol, wheat or tapioca starch, egg whites, and vegetable or soybean oil can all help improve the form of the surimi. Natural and artificial crab flavorings are added, and some of these flavorings are made from real crab or from boiled shells. Carmine, caramel, paprika, and annatto extract are often used to make the crab's red, orange, or pink coloring. Imitation crab is cooked, which helps set the surimi and give it the final texture and appearance. Nutritionally speaking, surimi is not that different from real crab, although it is lower in cholesterol.
I'm making a big pot of this soup today, having it for lunch, giving some to a friend and then freezing the rest for the next deep cold front, which is due Saturday, with no time in between to recover from this one!
Sharon's Seafood Chowder
1 small onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped ( with leaves)
5 mushrooms, chopped
1/3 cup salted butter
2 cans cream of potato soup
1 can cream of shrimp soup
4 cups milk or half and half
1 can minced clams with juice
8 ounces crabmeat, shredded
10 ounces small frozen shrimp
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
4 dashes angostura bitters
1/3 cup sherry
In a medium soup pot, sauté celery, onions, and mushrooms in butter until almost caramelized. Stir in remaining ingredients except the sherry. Heat but do not boil. Add sherry and adjust with more cream if desired and season to taste with salt and pepper. Freezes well in small containers.