Baby, It's Cold Outside!

It was in the 30's last night and will be again tonight. Brrrrr. Big deal, you say. Well in South Florida, it IS a big deal. Our homes are not insulated as well as yours; the cold comes pouring in all the sliding doors and windows, all while we're setting records for cold. (Yes, we have heat, but it just isn't very efficient when temps drop this low.) And I know pretty much across the rest of the country, you're setting records too. Luckily, I kept my Michigan warm clothes!  Down jackets, sweaters, wool caps, gloves and boots are the order of the day down here. It's funny, really, to see everyone dressed like this with palm trees in the background!
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.


  1. Thank you! I've used imitation crab for years - here and there - and I've been looking for a nice seafood chowder recipe.

    Be warm! My feet are freezing... I'll be cold until I get home and warm them up.

  2. Nothing better for cold days than chowder... great recipe, and in the 30's in Florida... no wonder they say it should be called global climate instability and not global warming....whole lotta crazy weather going around... it's been snowing for weeks in one poor town upstate!

  3. Yes, I remember, in FL everything comes to a halt when it gets cold like that. Looks like a lovely chowder to keep you warm though.

  4. Great soup recipe. I can hardly believe it, but I titled my posting the same as yours. Yes, it is very cold in Florida. Keep the soup hot.

  5. You're right...the 30's is considered freezing here in So. California as well!

    Thank you for the info. on imitation crab meat...I found that very interesting and your soup looks fabulous! Thank you for the recipe, I can't wait to give it a try.

    Hope you're having a fabulous sweet friend!


  6. Yum! This sounds great! I love chowder. Cold weather in Florida just seems wrong. Snow? I don't believe it! Although it has snowed here in San Francisco twice in the last 13 years, so anything is possible.

  7. Seriously, your sister makes a mean soup dish! I also love imitation crab - I can even eat it plain but in a soup - it would be super!

  8. Channon: I wear wool socks to bed!

    Long Past: I know. Really not global warming. I remember not long ago when everyone warned about global cooling. I think it's all cyclical, don't you?

    HH: I feel sorry for vacationers this week. Thank heaven my kids left before the cold hit.

    Susan: I love it. We think alike, right down to the snow in the 70's!

    Karyn: It's a lovely recipe!

    Hungry: We can really get cold weather in January and February. Not always, but possible. Always have thought March and April are the best months here.

    Trissa: Sharon is a divine soup maker and I have all her recipes. Will have to post more.

  9. when I lived in N.O. we freaked when it dipped into the 30's and now I'm wishing for 30's!

    My husband has a bad attitude about imitation crabmeat, but if he doesn't know...I am so trying this!

  10. I would love this. I'm so sick of the cold. I've been having to wear two pairs of socks and two sweatshirts half the time at home--even with the heat on! My blood is too thin for this!

    Where is that restaurant at? I'm willing to drive there...always wanted to go to Georgia.

  11. I did not know all that about imitation crab meat. I thought it must have been a bit plastic-y and fake. Sounds good (but it's a bit hot in Australia at the moment for soup) :)

  12. great soup wow that is cold for FL!

  13. mmm...sounds good. i used to live in Tampa, so i remember a few cold days along the way...i do miss the food though.

  14. Its been a little colder than 30 in Chicago lately, but cold is relative... I used to live in Minnesota so I still think the winters are mild here.

    I love seafood chowder this looks great.

  15. Lovely chowder. Perfect for winter evenings. I can't wait to make it for our coming winter down under.

  16. Sorry your butt is freezing- mine fell off two days ago from frostbite! From a Michigander that didn't fly south when he was supposed to! Soup helps..

  17. I can't believe how cold it is in so many temperate regions of the nation right now!

    As I write this, it's snowing like mad and 17 degrees, but it's Colorado, for Heaven's sake! Bundle up, sweetie!

  18. your post was so interesting...i never knew anything about imitation crab meat before. I've only had crab once or twice, in crab cakes, but I loved it! I bet your soup is delicious :) and you're right - perfect for cold weather

  19. very informative post, barbara, and may i say that your chowder looks most decadent. we all need something creamy and rich when it's so daggone cold outside!

  20. Crazy cold here in Tampa!!!! I think the feels like temp this morning was 17!!!!
    Lovely soup

  21. Wow, the 30's in South Florida, that is freezing! Your soup looks flavorful and delicious (and warming!).

  22. I grew up in the Sunshine State and I totally agree. When it get's cold it cold. It's a damp cold that hit your bones!
    Hope this yummy soup warmed you!

  23. After visiting Florida in a warm and balmy January years ago, I can't even begin to imagine a cold spell there. It rained so hard yet was freakishly hot for me. I bet it is a nice change for you all, if at least for a while, right?
    The soup is gorgeously creamy...my favorite!

  24. Hi Barbara,

    Isn't it funny how the weather is all topsy turvey and so much for global warming.
    I hope that the weather warms up for you.
    Thanks for the interesting info on crabmeat.
    I love seafood chowder and this looks and sounds delicious and I look forward to making a pot.


  25. This is a filling & comforting soup alright! Nice to go with baguette. And you're only allowed to take one bowl, daaarling! You're on diet, remember! haha....

  26. Your chowder looks so inviting, perfect to warm your bones. Heck you could probably warm up a bit if you drank some of that sherry!

  27. Katherine: Sneaky girl!

    Duck: Left the restaurant name on your post...

    Anita: The crab is actually very good!

    Rebecca: Nothing like soup to warm you up!

    Brian: We do get this kind of weather once in a while, not often though.

    Bryan: You're right- it is all relative. If only we were better insulated!

    Ellie: This is what I love about blogging...readers from across the world!

    BD: Yeah, I feel for you guys in Michigan. I remember it well.

    TKW: I have two sweaters on and wool socks. And, luckily, an electric blanket, which I haven't used in 10 years.

    Megan: My sister's soup is lovely and warming.

    Grace: Bundle up, Grace, my NY daughter says it's really cold up there!

    Leslie: You guys in Tampa have it worse than us!

    Faith: And not over yet!

    Foodie: The odd part is you can never get warm, except under the electric blanket!

    Bridgett: I don't mind the change for a little while, but this one is ridiculous!

    Carolyn: I used to make a clam chowder, but ended up liking this one so much more. Keep warm!

    Kristy: I was good. I tasted it and then poured it into containers and gave it away! I am still on the diet! I am determined.

    Mimi: Nothing like a hot toddy! (But I'm saying no to all those bad things until I take off my holiday pounds!)

  28. That chowder will be wonderful for dinner here in NY. Keep warm!

  29. Nothing like chowder to warm the bones. Thanks for the information on imitation crab. I use it now and then and always wondered what the heck it was.

  30. Barbara, this is just in time for me--we're having snow and more is predicted. It's time to hunker down and make some soup! Thanks for the recipe and the skinny on the imitation crab. I didn't know any of that!

  31. I hear you Barbara! Sydney doesn't seem to be very well set up for the cold either. For all my food snobbery I have to admit I really like the immitaiton crab in California rolls. Sounds great in this chowder too.

    Hope it warms up a little for you:)

  32. Soup really is the perfect cold weather solution, isn't it??!!

    Living in the Chgo area, it's hard for me to imagine kids who've never seen snow...we have so darn much of it!

    Have a great weekend Barbara!

    :) T

  33. Barbara this is divine! I also thought your post on dieting was awesome and so funny as well with all the darling pics. Boy do I ever need to get back on track after the eating I did.
    Thank you so much for the sweet comment.

  34. We're in the middle of a snow storm here today and your soup sounds perfect for a cold, snowy day!

    Thank you for that very informative paragraph on imitation crab meat.

  35. Happy New Year, Barbara! Imitation crabmeat is highly popular here too but I never knew how it was made, till now. Interesting!

  36. Mmmm.. the seafood chowder looks so creamy and comforting, so perfect for the cold weather!

  37. It got down into the 40's a couple weeks ago here in San Diego and I just about froze! It's amazing how quickly we adapt to the weather. I am definately not missing the midwest right now!
    The soup looks hearty and delicious! Keep warm!

  38. Imitation crab was the protein basis of my daughter's diet for years and years. Now (unfortunately) she likes the real deal. The soup looks absolutely delicious and perfect for a cold day in So. Fla. (BTW, on your url you have an extra g at the end which makes it hard for people to click and go to your blog after you comment--I always copy, paste and delete but some people might just give up.)

  39. What an interesting post, Barbara. I had no idea how imitation crabmeat was made. That chowder sounds wonderful. Happy New Year! I hope 2010 brings you health, happiness and prosperity.

  40. I am absolutely SICK of the cold weather in new york. So I understand.

    My roommate actually likes imitation crabmeat better than real crab. This looks so creamy and delicious...I could use a bowl right now.

  41. oh goodness I hear ya! I live in South Carolina and we've been having power outages due to everyone having their heat running. Sigh. Next week its supposed to warm back up to the 50's though (thank goodness). Stay warm. Love soup in warm weather ;)

  42. hey barbara, thank you for your commenton my blog. I in no way am obsessed with exercise, i do what I can and enjoy it. Some days are lighter than others, some days I dont do anything and other days I have double sessions! it depends on my body, how I am feeling and other factors such as time. The number one thing is that I ALWAYS listen to my body and never overdo-it. I hope this all makes sense!

    thanks for stopping by!

  43. That soup looks so good!
    It was 35 here yesterday and I thought it was a heat wave! Today it's 0!

  44. It's 30 degrees. I am not amused.

  45. I had no idea about where that imitation crab meat came from, how interesting! I use to love it, unfortunately it's not available where I live:(. AND, I'm a soup lover, thanks for the recipe.

  46. Ok, that Savannah Shop you sent me--it's taking all my willpower not to order a tin of pralines. For me.

  47. This looks really good and really easy! It's cold here too and I've been making lots of soups and stews.

  48. That soup looks so delicioius. I want some.

    Happy New Year.

    Love Renee xoxo

  49. i love imitation crab, it's so good, and perfect for a soup like this. stay warm!

  50. This soup looks yummy. I have not heard of using angustora bitters in soup before (only heard of using it in drinks) and I'm not sure I've ever even bought "bitters" before, either. So thanks for broadening my horizons! It's one of my favorite things about blogging, all there is to learn out there.

  51. Maya: Trying my darndest!

    Lea Ann: I know, I always thought with the name "imitation" it was something bad for me. I was happy to find out what it really was!

    Kate: If you're getting more snow, then Florida will be getting another cold front and this one hasn't passed yet! Word is this weekend will be the worst so far, but there is hope we can thaw our bones the following week.

    Shaz: That crab really does taste like crab. My sister's soup is really good.

    Tracey: Always a surprise to see kids who have never seen snow because Fl is such a transient state...but there are quite a few.

    June: The dieting continues. I just end up cooking for others. Takes enormous willpower!

    Susan: One cold front after another!

    Petite: Always nice to learn something...I never knew it either!

    Natasha: It really warms the tummy!

    Sarah: Electric blanket is on the bed for the first time in ages!

    Unconfidential: Sorry about the extra g. Speedy typing is not always accurate!

    Mary: Thank you and the same to you!

    Joanne: In this soup, I like the imitation better too.

    Erica: If we can make it through this weekend, we might just be OK for a while!

    Naomi: I think I am getting too old for all this! I'll just work out when I can, eat right and hope for the best! You are still young enough to love all of it! Go for it is what I say.

    Flourchild: Funny comment!

    Duck: Ditto. Bet the Pond is frozen over!

    Tammy: That hits the spot, doesn't it? Soups and stews!

    Renee: Easy to make!

  52. Lynn: The bitters are actually delicious in this soup. And I happened to have some in the pantry left over from a cocktail party. My sister informed me last night, after she read the blog, that she doesn't put it in anymore!

  53. Chowder sounds great for tonight! We're having crazy cold weather here in Austin too. And, our houses aren't insulated well either. It's already too cold for me, and tomorrow night will be worse!

  54. I've always wondered what imitation crab was! I didn't even know if it was actual meat or just...something else. LOL!

  55. This indeed sounds perfect for a chilly day, chilly being relative I guess;)

    What a lucky friend to be receiving this. I love to make soups for this very reason, some for my family, some for friends, some to freeze for a busy day:)

  56. Yum! I love a good seafood chowder and the idea that it tastes better using that seafood extender is amazing! :O Thanks for sharing and I hope you're keeping warm :)

  57. This soup does look creamy and delicious! I love cooking soups in the winter and am always looking for a new recipe, so thanks for posting this one.
    It is 4 degrees here in SW Missouri right now, so I made a pot of soup today. Can't wait for spring-sigh~

  58. Wonderful chowder. Perfect for winter, eat with sourdough bread. YUM!

  59. Lisa: I'm dreading this weekend! Supposed to be worse than this week.

    Karly: Me too. Glad to hear it was actually fish-based.

    Donna: I'm single, so making a huge pot of soup is pointless unless I give some of it away. I freeze some in single serving sizes too.

    Lorraine: It's as good as old fashioned clam chowder I used to spend half a day making!

    Lynda: Hoping it won't be quite so bitter for all of us next week.

    Elra: I'd love sour dough bread with it!

  60. Hi there,

    Thanks so much for the enlightening on imitation crabmeat. I used to spend ages wondering what EXACTLY it was. Well, now I know what it isnt...real! :)

    And aren't chowders just the best for a rainy day.

  61. Vickys: Well, at least it's fish in one form or another. I had thought it was completely fake!

  62. Hi Barbara, I didn't know anything about imitation crabmeat until Now..thanks for the info!! It is freezing here and snowy but you are right...it is just not expected like that in Southern Florida..I'm missing Butterfly World, I need to get down to Delray asap!??

    Well anyway you have helped me decide what I'm cooking on this snowy cold weekend...seafood chowder!!
    Stay Warm

  63. I use this too! is absolutely nice, I maade things with bechamel, cannelonis and others is so nice. and this look delicious.
    Sorry you are cold here is so hot!! the crazy world! gloria

  64. This cold weather is so inspiring from a cooking standpoint isn't it? Great post and delicious looking chowder. I really didn't know anything about imitation crab - thanks so much for the info!

  65. We're having a coldish wave around here, that soup would be perfect for tonight's dinner!

  66. Interesting article and delicious soup

  67. Bunny: Hope those butterflies stay warm this weekend!

    Gloria: That's what I like about blogging...we're all over the world!

    Stephanie: My electric blanket is on the bed! Can't believe it.

    Clumbsy: You'll enjoy it and keep warm at the same time!

    Sylvia: Thanks!

  68. Barbara my husband and teen were oogling at the photo of your chowder saying it looks so delicious. So good to know more about imitation crab meat. I have always like it and I will definitely try it when making this soup. It is 28F here in Houston tonight and getting colder. You are so right when you say our houses are cut out for these temps. I hope you are staying warm tonight? Barbara I must tell you that you are the dearest most kind person. You are always, always so thoughtful. It does mean the world to me. My mothers name was Sharon, like your sister. Great name!
    Thinking of you... brrrr..

    xx deb

  69. wow, this soup looks amazing!

  70. That does sound cold for Florida, although I'm used to those temps (and below!) here in Utah! I actually have some imitation crab meat in my freezer that I was wondering what I was going to use it for!

  71. Aah, hot delicious soup on a cold day. I woke up to 20 degrees, and would love a bowl of this for breakfast. I do prefer blue claws though. Thanks so much for visiting my site. Love yours.

  72. Thank you for visiting me the other day...oh I hope it warms up for you soon. Your soup is so lovely. It should make you feel comfy and warm for a wee bit. Have a great weekend....stay cozy.

  73. GOD that looks good!!!

  74. This soup sounds so good right now.

  75. Thanks for reminding me of how wonderful chowder can be when it is lovingly made at home!



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