“Callaloo” with Gramma Lu

My Mom is a fabulous cook. When she has something in a restaurant that she likes, she’ll try to recreate it at home. It’s like America’s Test Kitchen in NJ. I don’t have the patience to try the same recipe over and over until it’s “just right”, so I tend to beg for recipes while I’m in restaurants. One time I wanted a recipe for a sweet potato puree from my favorite restaurant in the world: Doris & Ed’s in Atlantic Highlands, NJ. I asked the waiter if he could get the recipe from the chef, and he wasn’t very forthcoming. My dinner companion looked at him and said, “I’m telling you right now, she’s not leaving without the recipe”. Yup! I got it!

How I was introduced to this Crab Bisque creation: My Mom held elected office in NJ for most of my life, and after every campaign she and my Dad would go to Barbados to recuperate and recharge their batteries. One time, many years ago, she came back and decided to recreate a crab and “callaloo” soup that they’d tasted in Barbados. My research on Crab and Callaloo Soup suggests that she probably remembered it differently than the original dish. But in this case it didn’t matter, because the result was so delicious, and it’s now one of our holiday favorites, not to mention a frequent selection on our Soup Party menu. This is not a very thick “bisque”-like soup, and that’s why I like it.

You can further lighten this Bisque by substituting Half & Half for the Heavy Cream. OR thicken it by reducing it before adding the crab and heavy cream in the 2nd step. I always use the Maryland Jumbo Lump blue crabmeat. It’s expensive, but it takes very little time to “pick through” the crab to find and discard any cartilage; it keeps in the refrigerator (it comes in a can), so you can buy it on sale and it won’t go bad; and the flavor is outstanding. If you want to make this a bit less expensive, you can use Dungeness Crabmeat (or regular blue crab, not Jumbo Lump) in the first part of the recipe. This way any cartilage will be pureed and then strained out. But the larger chunks in the soup itself should be cartilage free, or people will be chomping on the crab instead of enjoying the wonderful texture and taste of the Bisque.

Crab & Callaloo Bisque
Created by Dot Power (my Mom) from a soup she tasted in Barbados
Serves 12-18

Cook 2 leeks (whites + 1″ green), chopped, and 2 stalks celery (chopped) in 2-3 Tbls. butter until soft.

Put into blender with 1 cup chicken broth. Purée; then strain into a large soup pot, pushing all pulp through.

Blend in a blender:
2 cans (3¾ cups) College Inn or Home-made Chicken Broth
2 cans Cream of Celery Soup
1 cup flaked fresh crabmeat

Strain into the soup pot along with the previous blended ingredients, and add:

(Do not strain this…)
1½ soup cans milk
1½ cans (1 pint) heavy cream
2 cups crabmeat, flaked
1½ cups sliced fresh spinach  (I use the pre-washed baby spinach)
¾ cup dry white wine

Slowly cook till spinach is soft. Do not boil.



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