Murph was really on his game this weekend – concocting probably the very best, most awesome batch of Corn and Crabmeat Chowder he has ever made – ever.
One taste and you knew it needed no more tinkering. Hands up and step back. We knew we needed to share the love – this wondrous soup – with others. Serendipitously, the following day I hosted a Ladie’s Tea here at Connecticut Country House, and Murph suggested that I serve this soup with crusty bread (warmed in the oven) to the ladies before any of the tea, coffee, or sweet stuff. Agreed.
It’s one thing to serve fabulous soup. It’s quite another as to how you present it. You see the beauty of this soup lies in the taste, not so much the looks. I knew I needed to make up for that with the bowls. I pulled my creamy white bowls in the shape of a cupped leaf and ladled the velvety chowder neatly into them, and placed each bowl on a scalloped lattice-pierced plate to make the whole thing even more graphic – and prettier.
As pretty as it was, I knew it still needed that one little unexpected twist.
My “ah-ha” moment came when I remembered that the robust bed of chives in the kitchen garden was bursting with bright lavender flowers. And the fact that these funny-looking spikey flowers are completely edible – and that they happen to look like little purple pompoms – how perfect.
I had to move fast. With clippers in hand, I cut a small bunch of various sized chive flowers, and ever so gingerly placed three (an odd number is always best) to the side in each bowl that gave the whole presentation a touch of “girlie whimsy”. How lucky was that? As I was making them up, I knew I had something pretty special here. O.K., I thought – so it’ll only be one take, one shot for the blog to tell my story – it’s worthy of documenting. I quickly grabbed my iPhone, and off to the the side I snapped an impromptu photo shoot. After each bowl had its picture taken (and while they were still hot), off they went into the dining room for the ladies to enjoy. And I’m happy to report that they did.
Looks can be deceiving. A pretty soup package that also packs a powerful flavor punch – well let’s just say I love when that happens.
Murph’s Corn and Crabmeat Chowder
1 large can of lump crabmeat
1-1 1/2 cups steamed fresh corn from the cob (frozen is O.K. too)
4-5 scallions, minced – all of white section and 1/2 of green stalk.
1 dried Ancho pepper, cut in half
1 stick of unsalted (sweet) butter
4-5 tablespoons flour
2 quarts light chicken broth
1 pint half and half or light cream
2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon tabasco
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon Stubb’s Liquid Smoke
Start by wilting minced scallions in 1 tablespoon olive oil in a 4-quart pot for 3-5 minutes by stirring regularly. Remove from heat, and reserve scallions on a plate – set aside – and will add to mixture later.
In the same pot (do not clean), add the stick of butter, and melt on medium heat. As the butter is melting – using a whisk – little by little whisk in the flour. Whisk at a rapid pace to make a rue. Simmer rue on medium-low heat for 3-4 minutes, continuing to whisk on occasion as needed.
Slowly whisk in 2 quarts of the chicken broth, add the 2 halves of the dried Ancho pepper, and simmer for 10 minutes. Add paprika, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, tabasco, and liquid smoke. Whisk all together and simmer another 2 minutes.
Add corn, half and half (or light cream), and crabmeat. Mix gently with a wooden spoon (do not use the whisk here as you don’t want to break up the crab).
When it comes back to a simmer (not a full boil), cover the pot with a lid, and turn off the heat. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
You can enjoy it the same day, or refrigerate overnight and let the flavors develop. Remember to fish out the Ancho pepper before serving.