Monday, January 9, 2012

homage to Nancy: maryland crab soup

Birthday Homage to Nancy Siegel
Spicy Goodness!

Today's post features one of my favorite flavor cravings - Old Bay Seasoning.  We lived on the Chesapeake Bay during my adolescence so I am blessed with a trove of happy seafood memories ... pulling crab pots from the pier, chicken-necking in a quiet cove from a small boat, dragging our 'haul' up the hill, making a fragrant bath over the stove in our garden shed, laying newspaper on the picnic table, emptying a bushel of spice-covered crabs, cracking them open, pitchers of iced tea, packages of Saltines, busy fingers, the hum of happy conversation and debate ... I can almost taste it.

Later, while living in Baltimore, I developed a friendship with a remarkable woman, Nancy Siegel.  Nancy's vitality and passion made her a mentor for many and I have been blessed by knowing her and her family.  We shared heartfelt conversations and memorable moments, many taking place over a table covered in brown paper and the remnants of a happy meal of steamed crabs.  These outings were a kind of evolution from girl-time in college ... to what would be my adult version of 'girls' night out'. Intimate conversations over dinner with Nancy almost always began with a bowl of Maryland Crab Soup.

Channeling one of my most treasured friends on her birthday, I embarked on this Southern Maryland tradition and it was a great mood booster! Even though we live far away from each other and it has been years since we shared a meal of this regional favorite, our friendship is a foundation of the woman I am today.  So this post celebrates Nancy and the amazing stories we've shared together.  Happy Birthday, Nancy!

Maryland Crab Soup
adapted from Saveur

1 yellow onion, peeled and diced
pinch of kosher salt
2 stalks celery, trimmed and diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
2 yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
1 c green beans, trimmed into 1" pieces
1/2 head of cabbage, diced
1 c frozen corn kernels
1 c frozen peas
1 package frozen lima beans
4 T Worcestshire Sauce
2 T Old Bay Seasoning
1.5 T dry mustard
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 28 oz can whole tomatoes, crushed with your fingers
7+ c water (I filled the tomato can 3 times)
2 bay leaves
1 lb jumbo crab meat
s/p to taste


1. Heat a large soup pot.  Drizzle evoo to cover the  bottom and saute the onion over medium heat with a pinch of kosher salt. While it softens, chop the remaining fresh vegetables and add to the pot as you go.

2.  Now add your frozen veggies and the seasonings: Worcestshire sauce, Old Bay, dry mustard, and pepper flakes.  Stir distribute and let the flavors meld (1-2 minutes) before adding the tomatoes.  I crush & tear with my hands. You could also use diced tomatoes.

3.  Add the water (you could use broth - but the soup has great flavor without it), bay leaves and bring to a boil.  Then reduce the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes.  Taste - add salt and pepper as needed and make sure potatoes are cooked through.  Then add your crabmeat.

4.  Simmer for another 15 minutes or so and serve.  I like mine with a few Saltines.  Jeff likes his with some Goldfish floating on top.

5.  This batch is huge - share with friends! Enjoy!

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