Skip the sappy story and go straight to what you came here for, the recipe.
As with most things in life, a destination is arrived at by taking the first step. That first step for me was enjoying Campbell's Chunky New England Clam Chowder. My love affair with clams began as I was introduced to them at Chincoteague Virginia's Landmark Crab House. Steamed, dunked in butter, and served on fresh bread. Yearly, if not multiple times a year, my family would venture down to the picturesque Assateague Beach of Chincoteague's National Wildlife Refuge. That was at least until I filled my summers at PSU Main Campus with coursework and a brief stint at the Nittany Lion Inn. While there, I was introduced to a delicious Lobster Bisque prepared by the kitchen's militant Chef Tom. While just about any food was typically available for employee snacking if not full blown meals, the Lobster Bisque was considered off limits. That of course didn't stop me from occasionally ladling a spoonful or two into my coffee mug as I left for the afternoon. A few short years later, on life's brake-less bullet train, I found myself back at Chincoteague for an impromptu trip. Unbeknownst to me, two loves would deepen this weekend. One being with a young woman I had been dating for hardly four months and the other being Crab Bisque.
Four months into dating my now wife, I knew we had something special going on. I wasted little time inviting her to my hallowed Chincoteague vacationing spot. In the same time frame, my college roommate was living in Annapolis with his new girlfriend. They too are now married, but I digress. That Thursday night, via water taxi, we ventured to a local bar where we had our first bowl of creamy crab soup for the weekend. The soup was so good a second bowl was brought out to the table after the first was finished. After a brief beach day, while waiting for our friends to finish work and join us in Chincoteague, my girlfriend and I stopped at Etta's Channel Side Restaurant for a quick lunch before checking into our hotel. We enjoyed a heavenly cream based seafood chowder that included local crab and oysters.
The tour of crab soups came to a conclusion with a stop at Players Bar & Grill in Woodstock, Maryland. I recall ordering the Maryland Crab Soup while future wifey ordered the Crab and Corn Chowder. It wasn't even a question that I would be attempting to make this kind of soup once we returned home. After an insanely brief internet search serendipitously landed me on Crab Bisque Chincoteague, I knew I had found the perfect starting point.
- 4 Tablespoons Salted Butter.
- 3/4 Cup Chopped Onion (White or Sweet).
- 4 Tablespoon White Flour.
- 8oz / 1 Cup Chicken Broth.
- 24oz / 3 Cups Milk (2% Milk Fat or Higher).
- 1 Bay Leaf.
- 1 Cup Sharp Cheddar Cheese.
- 1 Pint Heavy Whipping Cream.
- 2 Teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning.
- 1/2 Teaspoon Lemon Pepper.
- 1 Tablespoons Parsley.
- 2 Tablespoons Cooking Sherry.
- 1 Teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce.
- 1 Pound Crab Meat.
(Can add 1/2 lb Langostino Lobster Meat, Clams, or Oysters)
- Melt butter on low simmering heat.
- Sweat, Saute, or otherwise cook the chopped onion in the salted butter until translucent (5 to 10 minutes).
- Slowly begin adding and stirring the flour to create a roux.
- Raise the heat to medium low and begin slowly adding the chicken broth, milk, and bay leaf stirring constantly.
(If you want to really step up your flavor game, include some crab and/or lobster shell during this process)
- Continue cooking and stirring at medium low heat for 15 to 25 minutes.
- Remove bay leaf (and shells if you used them), turn off heat, puree mixture with a regular blender or an immersion blender.
- After the mixture is pureed and returned to the pot, put the heat back on to medium low and add the sharp cheddar and continue stirring.
- Once thickened, add seasonings, then whipping cream, and then the crab meat.
- Pour in the recommended amount of Cooking Sherry & Worcestershire Sauce.
- Continue simmering and stirring until crab is thoroughly heated.
Serve with buttery rolls or biscuits and a glass of chilled Niagara or other white wine.
Frequently Lobster Bisque or Clam Chowder adorns most restaurant menus while Crab Bisque takes a back seat. As the seeds of love began to grow and bloom in my life, Crab Bisque was the culinary highlight of a weekend beach trip I shared with the woman who would eventually be my wife. As with any recipe there are many variations. Once you get down the Crab Bisque basics, expanding the ingredient list should come naturally until you find something that you’re proud to share with friends and family.
This recipe admittedly gets somewhat tedious and complicated. If you're able to follow along, kudos. Simply adding carrots in with the onion and replacing the crab with lobster will result in an almost completely different soup. If you want to give this a try without the complicated parts, the original inspiration of Crab Bisque Chincoteague will work out just fine for you.
Soup from a can or a bowl at a restaurant can be pretty forgettable even if it's good. When the pursuit to recreate a memorable experience borders obsession, this is the end result. If you're still reading, I hope the useful content outweighed any boredom caused by my love story. Life's ticking clock doesn't come with a pause or rewind button, however a big spoonful of this soup with my eyes closed transports me to a very meaningful and memorable weekend I shared with the love of my life. Maybe you can make this a special part of your life too? Thanks for reading!