Monday, February 20, 2017

Prize Winning Soup for the Soul

   As the groundhog cast his wintry shadow and predicted extensive cold and gray, I remembered how wrong he was last year and went about my business of cleaning the pantry shelves. 

   Big buckets of flours and oat were pulled out and placed on the counter alongside quarts of fruit. I dutifully swept the crumbs out from the darkest corners and thought, my, this is the longest winter.

   Sunlight shone for mere seconds and a strong wind howled as I replaced the items and began the next shelf, a hodge-podge of forgotten snacks, dip mixes, and surplus staples. I just wish the cold would be over with already. There is so much I want to do. 

   I wiped down the shelf and tried to clean a hardened stain that won't budge. February is a month of survival, so say the mice and the hearty kale plants still hanging on in the garden. I move on to my next shelf which appears to be a treasure trove of forgotten purchases, ingredients purchased with the best intentions for some recipe that excited me once. Then I hear the sound that always cheers me. The gentle but distinct putt putt putt puff chuff chuff chuff...

   I glance out the window and look for it. Putt putt putt putt...

   I love that sound. It's still gray, but the sun is shining for just a minute. For just a minute it is August and I walk amongst the machines at an antique engine pull, balancing my root beer and a tired little boy. It's getting louder. PUTT PUTT PUTT. Then I see the flash of bright green and yellow paint. Green and yellow, the colors of sun and ripening fields. My neighbor is driving his old tractor down the road between home and work. He doesn't have to ride his restored antique. He could actually drive, or bicycle. Sometimes he does. And then sometimes, he might need a little August in the winter, too. Like a beach umbrella in the snow, his happy tractor provides a bit of hope and whimsy as I close the door on my clean pantry. 

   February has its moments. If you follow me on Instagram you can see a photo collage of a small baked doughnut project that Little Mister and I did together. 

   Also, for the second year in a row, I won our church's friendly and not terribly competitive soup contest. The grand prize is the good feeling of knowing that a lot of people really enjoyed something you made that was exceptional. This year I entered a Corn and Crab Chowder that I hadn't made in many years, if only because crab is not exactly in the budget anymore. Then I discovered I could use a much more economical substitution of imitation crab without compromising the taste one bit. 

I won with minimal lobbying on my part. Except for the time I spent at the soup table loudly declaring I THINK THE HOMEGROWN ORGANIC CORN FROM OUR OWN GARDEN REALLY MAKES IT. 

I was a little hoarse the next day. 

Don't judge me. 

Here's the recipe. 

First Place Corn and Crab Chowder

Yield: About 16 cups. It's great for company!

1 medium onion, diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
3 cloves minced garlic
6 Tablespoons butter
½ cup all-purpose flour
2 cartons (32 oz. each) vegetable stock
2 large potatoes, peeled and diced
Salt and pepper
16 oz. jumbo lump crabmeat OR 2 (8 oz.) packages imitation crabmeat
1 sweet red pepper, diced
2 packages (16 oz. each) whole frozen corn OR 1-quart freezer corn
1 tsp. Old Bay Seasoning
1 Tbsp. thyme
16 oz. light cream
Tabasco sauce- ½ tsp. And increase amount to your taste

In a stockpot, melt 3 tablespoons of butter and cook celery, onion and garlic until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the rest of the butter and stir until melted. Add flour, stirring until completely blended. Cook, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pot every 30 seconds, about 3 minutes.

Whisk in vegetable stock. Add corn and whisk. Add peppers, potato, and thyme. Season with salt and pepper and increase heat to MED-HIGH. Cook, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes until it comes to a boil.

Reduce heat to MED. Simmer 10-15 minutes until potatoes are tender. Add cream gradually; stir. Return to simmer about 2-3 minutes. Season with Tabasco, Old Bay, and thyme. Add crabmeat. Stir gently until soup is warmed throughout. Serve and enjoy!

Soup being served in real life.


  1. Hello Monica, here in Texas we are wishing for some cold weather. The bugs are already coming out.
    Your soup looks delicious.
    Blessings to you and your family,

    1. Hi Linda, I can't quite imagine bugs yet though this is now turning into an unusually warm February. The nice weather is starting to chase some sickness away. Texas actually sounds lovely. Wishing you many blessings!

  2. Phil the groundhog was wrong- I wish I could enjoy this weather more- I've got bronchitis, and it's not going anywhere. This too shall pass.
    I will be making that chowder as soon as I'm up! Thanks!

    1. I hope you don't mind- I put this on my Pinterest Soup board.

    2. Megs, I am so sorry to hear about your bronchitis. I also had it for a week and am still recovering! It really knocked me out. I hope you are feeling better each day.
      And do I mind that you pinned it on Pinterest? Certainly not! I love when people pin my recipes!

  3. Congratulations!! That soup looks delicious!

  4. I love the looks of that soup! Pretty sure the taste equals the looks. Yum!


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