Archive for the ‘let's eat out’ Category

The Soup Lady has just returned from a trip to Baltimore, a city which – according to the hotel room tv channels –  seems to be composed of only the Inner Harbor and the carcasses of millions of dead crabs. One cannot escape the city without engaging a crab in some shape or form, be it food, a tshirt that says "Don’t Bother Me I’m Crabby" or some tasty claw chocolate in the form of a crab-shaped candy bar.

You can use fresh cooked, frozen or canned crab meat for this recipe. In a minimally processed recipe like this one, the quality of the ingredients – the scotch as well as the crab meat – will affect the quality of the finished product. Never use imiation crab meat, despite it’s jolly identification as  "krab".


1/2 – 3/4 pound of crab meat
1/4 cup of butter
1 cup of heavy cream
1/4 cup of Scotch whiskey
1 quart of milk
and  pepper
Old Bay Seasoning

1. Prepare the crab meat by picking through it to remove any bits of shell or cartilage  and then shredding the meat into small pieces.
2. Melt the butter in  a saucepan over low heat and then add the crab meat and the heavy cream, followed by whiskey.
3. Stir over medium low heat until the mixture is heated through.
4. Stir in the milk and pepper and then taste for seasoning. Depending in which form of crab meat you are using*, the additional salt needed  may vary.
5. Stir frequently to avoid scorching and heat until very hot throughout – never bring to a boil.
6. Serve in individual pre-heated bowls and garnish with a  pinch of Old Bay Seasoning in the center of the bowl.

WholeHeatlhMD.com lists the different types of crab – Alaskan King Crab is sold as fronzen meat and is readily availabe anywhere, but for that true Baltimore taste experience, its the Blue Claws that you need. Knowing the difference between the types and origin can help you choose the crab that is best suited for its final use:

*Crabs are sold live, and their meat–delicately sweet, firm yet flaky–is available fresh cooked, frozen, and canned. Fresh crabmeat is sold as lump, backfin, or flake. Lump crabmeat, which consists of large, choice chunks of body meat, is the finest and most expensive. Backfin is smaller pieces of body meat. Flake is white meat from the body and other parts and is in flakes and shreds. Some fresh-cooked crab is pasteurized after cooking, which helps it keep longer. Canned crab is often imported from Asia and may come from a variety of species."  wholehealthMD.com

Other helpful information on this site lists how to select, "prepare" (kill) and cook live crabs.


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Red Snapper Soup

The Soup Lady recently had the opportunity to partake of what the waiter referred to as "the best fish soup in the world." The scene was the Drake Bros. Restaurant located in the Drake Hotel in Chicago and the soup was Bookbinder Soup.

The soup was very delicious and the experience was made even more delightful when the waiter served a mini-carafe of an excellent cream sherry along side the bowl. He floated the sherry on top of the hot soup and the first spoonful was shocking and breath-taking.  The soup itself was rich without being greasy, dense without being stew-ish and savory without being salty. Overall rating: delightful.

In fact, The Soup Lady was so taken with it, that upon return home  the interweb was quickly pressed into service to look up the recipe. And that’s where it all went wrong. The waiter had called it a red snapper soup and because he said "fish soup", wouldn’t you assume that it was a soup made out of red snapper? Don’t be naive!

It turns out that this is  a famous creation from Bookbinder’s Restaurant in Philadelphia. You can buy it in cans or you can make your own from a recipe such as this one. Is it now painfuly obvious that everyone except the Soup Lady understands that the soup I enjoyed so much was a red soup made from a snapper (turtle), not a soup made from a red snapper (fish).

Now it may seem like a fine culinary  line to you, but eating fish is something I’m used to doing. Eating combative reptilian scavengers when you are expecting to eat fish is another thing entirely.

The Soup Lady does not like to be fooled. That is why you will never find discussion about magicians here – why would I pay good money to see a show by someone  who is out to fool me? I’m afraid I must throw the Drake Bros.’ waiter into this catagory now, too – a new personal catagory of mine called As Bad As A Magician.  If I ever say that you are As Bad As A Magician, cower! It is a grave insult.

It was very sneaky of him to call it Red  Snapper Soup instead of just Snapper Soup and downright dishonest to say that it was fish soup when clearly he knew it was not.  That’s probably how they unload the stuff everyday – otherwise they would be stuck with a potful of it at the end of serving hours. The reason that I am so put out by this is because it is a violation of the basic implied waiter/patron agreement – if one cannot trust the integrity of one’s waiter, then were does that leave one? It leaves one with egg on their face and turtle in their mouth, that’s where.

Now you are on your own with this – yes, it was an exteremely tasty soup but if knew before hand what it really was, I would never have ordered it. And I certainly will not ever have it again.

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3 Bad Soups

The Soup Lady had occasion to attend a luncheon at a Main Line (Philadelphia) restaurant yesterday, Basil Bistro & Bar. I’m pretty sure they have their own goat tied up in the back alley because every other menu item featured fresh goat cheese. I’m all for fresh goat cheese, but there is a limit. By page 3, you should give it a rest already.

Three people in our party ordered soup to start, and none of it went over too well. The first soup was a Manhattan Clam Chowder. It took only one spoonfull for the recipeint to exclaim “Salty!” That always makes me nervous – what are they trying to cover up in that stock pot? Strike 1.

The Soup Lady had the Lobster and Crab Bisque. The creamy base was properly pinkish and did have some flavor, but it arrived in its bowl at just above room temperature. It was not described as a cold soup so I have to conclude that it sat too long after being ladeled out. To add insult to the whole thing, there were a few bits of lobster and crab meat in the center of the bowl. Obviously, they were placed there before the soup itself was dished out because they made no pretense to being part of a blend. They were sized just right for a soup spoon to deliver without a struggle, but were way too big to be passed off as garnish. Strike 2.

The real clunker in the bunch had a featured place on the menu and it was called White Bean, Chicken and Escarole -Better Than Onion!- Soup. An individual crock was delivered to the table that looked for all the world like French Onion Soup – all cheesy melt over a lump of bread. What a bizarre combination of ideas it was – a thin chicken base, chunks of obviously left-over grilled chicken breast floating next to some carrot rounds and celery slices. A grand total of 7 beans were found beneath the abundant escarole but only after a concentrated search was conducted. More than half the soup was left in the bowl. Strike 3.

And so Basil’s Bistro & Bar has been called OUT! as a reasonable place to order soup. The goat cheese wasn’t bad, though.

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Navy Bean Soup at the Gateway Cafe

Today the Soup Lady broke away from the terrible drudgery of the office to indulge in a little fresh air and a good lunch. The destination was an unassuming little place in a strip mall. It’s a family-owned restaurant done up in a red leatherette/pseudo-50’s/Betty Boop theme – an almost unbearable decor that is saved by the white lace cafe curtains – but the sandwiches are great and they have specials to make your mouth water.

Today’s special was Pulled Pork on a kaiser roll with Navy Bean Soup. How could you go wrong? While the pork was tender and moist and heavily seasoned with sage, the soup had no flavor at all. Oh, it looked good – all thick and colorful with shredded carrots in it, and it smelled good – little wisps of steam carrying the aroma right up to you – but the beans tasted as if they had been cooked seperately and then dumped into the broth. A great disappointment. We won’t be falling for that one again.

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