Recipe: Winter Crab Bisque

One of the best things about this recipe is that it uses up the leftover Crab Dip that I had from our family’s Thanksgiving dinner this past weekend.  Crab Dip is a thing of beauty…. thick, creamy, and so very decadent.  The hard part comes when the entire recipe isn’t eaten and you have to find something that is equally delicious in which to use all that fabulous crab… and this, in my opinion, is it!WinterCrabBisque

I started my Winter Crab Bisque by making the soup base.  I diced half an onion and sauteed it in a bit of olive oil.  I then diced 3/4 of a butternut squash (about 4 cups) and one large sweet potato and added them to the large stock pot, turning the heat to medium to start a simmer.  Quickly adding equal parts chicken stock and white wine, I gave the vegetables time to cook on a low boil until everything was soft.  I had chosen to use marjoram, some fresh rosemary, and pepper for my seasoning, so added these to the cooking vegetables so the flavors would combine.

Once the vegetables were soft (almost “falling apart” soft), I used a stick blender to thoroughly mash everything until smooth. The soup was still very warm at this point, so I turned off the heat and added the cold leftover crab dip.  NOTE: My Crab Dip recipe couldn’t be easier… it comes from my cousin, Kris, and it’s as easy as warming 1 stick of butter and 1 block of cream cheese in a double boiler, then adding 1 lb crabmeat and seasoning with Old Bay and parsley.  

After adding the cold crab dip, I simply folded the soup over the dip until everything came to the same temperature and combined nicely.  The crab dip had already been seasoned with Old Bay and parsley, so this was a lovely addition to the winter vegetables in the soup, coming together to make a thick and hearty bisque that could warm the coldest hearts on a winters day.

One extra note on the crab dip: my official recipe from Kris says to use Lump crab meat, but the cost was about to make me choke, so I substituted claw meat, which was half the cost of the lump crab meat.  I was pleased with the results, but I was also serving a bunch of guys who don’t mind the difference.  If you’re trying to impress, the lump crab meat is definitely more “perfect”, but I tend to lean more toward something that’s less costly if I’m mixing it into other ingredients.

I do hope you’ll try this simple, yet elegant dish.  I made it in under an hour this morning and am very happy with the results.  If you’re looking for a delicious bisque recipe that isn’t going to send you running to the store for new/unique ingredients, this is a great option!  Enjoy!

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Recipe: Fridge Soup

It sounds like a hokey name for a recipe, but honestly it’s the easiest way to describe this soup. This recipe started when I wasn’t feeling so peppy this morning and wanted to make something that would be healthy, yet comforting… kind of like chicken-soup-on-steriods?

Here’s how it looked just before the arborio rice got nice and plump, thickening the soup…FridgeSoup yum!

I started with half a cooked chicken, some water, bouillon, and James River Rad Red Wine. I had pulled the chicken out of the freezer, so I let the beginnings of the broth cook and warm up the carcass/meat of the chicken. Once the chicken started to fall off the bone, I plucked it out of the broth and shredded it while I pulled the rest of the soup ingredients out of the fridge (hence the name of this soup). I added carrots, celery, spinach, and garlic, chopping everything into similar sizes so they cooked evenly. I also added a little salt and pepper to taste and then re-added chicken to the soup.

At this point, I had to decide if I wanted use pasta or rice… and I chose 1/4cup arborio rice. It was a simple choice but I could have easily chosen orzo pasta instead.

This was a great “feel better” kind of soup. Piping hot, it reminded me of chicken noodle soup, but gave me some different flavors from the red wine and the spinach that were pretty darn tasty. Maybe you can try it the next time you need a pick-me-up kind of soup?

For me, snow and soup go hand-in-hand… and apparently, that’s what we’re getting, weather-wise, to start Spring this year. Hope you’ll try something like this too!

Recipe: Chicken Noodle Soup… with wine

I don’t know of any other food that has such an amazing ability to evoke memories of  “home” to me than Chicken Noodle Soup.   I adore the combination of the broth, vegetables, and chicken that can conjure up visions of snowy stay-at-home days or lazy fall lay-around days.  It’s getting to be about that time of the year when my crock pot and my soup pot both get a workout… when dinners are made the night before and the house seems steeped in the fragrant mirepoix of celery, carrots, and onion.

Today was one of those days when I just needed to make Chicken Noodle Soup.  M is home sick and wants to eat soup… so, of course, I wanted to make it from scratch.  He will agree when I say that he makes a lousy patient.  He doesn’t like to be sick and hates not having enough energy to do much of anything, so my thought is to make something that tastes good and has wonderful healing properties (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicken_soup) to make M feel better as soon as possible.

As with most of my recipes, this is definitely a “Use The Force” recipe.  I start with my big soup pot.  This thing can easily hold an entire cooked chicken (picked up cold from the local grocery store) and enough water to cover it… so that’s where I start.  I cook the chicken in the water until the chicken is almost ready to fall apart.  Remove the chicken to a strainer and allow to cool before picking all the meat off the bones.  You now have a very light stock to start your soup.

I finely dice carrots and celery and add to the soup.  Today, I used a few hands full of baby carrots and the inside pieces of a stalk of celery as my mirepoix… M’s not a big fan of onion, so I didn’t include it today.  I then diced some of the chicken breast into fairly small pieces.  I saved most of the chicken for other uses but a total of one breast, sliced and diced, was enough for this entire pot of soup.  I allowed the vegetables to cook for awhile and then adjusted the seasonings… adding salt/pepper, a little parsley and lemon thyme, and then included four packets of G. Washington Golden Bouillon (my favorite from childhood).  Since M wanted “noodle soup”, I broke up about an inch-width of linguine into four pieces to simulate the name brand’s noodles… now it just needed to cook the noodles.

Once everything was incorporated and the noodles had plumped up, I added about a half cup of Reserve Chardonnay from James River Cellars Winery.  I could have used any white wine, but I really like the way Chardonnay cooks and it adds a really lovely back note to the broth.   This made my chicken noodle soup taste amazing.

I hope you’ll try your hand at making your own version of Chicken Noodle Soup, especially if someone you love isn’t feeling up to par.  It might be just what the Doctor ordered!