Spinach and Crabmeat Soup with Country Ham Croutons
- SERVINGS: 10
When George Mahaffey makes this sublime, lightly creamy soup, he uses two coarsely chopped boiled blue crabs, which add rich seafood flavor to the dish. If you have a professional or other powerful food processor that easily cuts through shells, you too can add boiled crabs; if not, try raw, unpeeled shrimp, which are easily pureed in a standard blender or food processor.
- 1 large Idaho potato
- 3 tablespoons peanut oil
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped onion
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped celery
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped green bell pepper
- 1/4 cup coarsely chopped carrot
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped country ham or prosciutto
- 1 pound small shrimp, unpeeled
- 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped unsalted roasted peanuts
- 3 tablespoons chopped parsley
- 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 2 1/2 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 quarts fish stock, chicken stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 1/2 quarts milk
- 1/4 cup cornstarch mixed with 1/4 cup water
- 1 pound fresh spinach, large stems discarded, leaves finely chopped
- 1 pound lump crabmeat, picked over
- 10 Country Ham Croutons
- Preheat the oven to 400°. Prick the potato all over and bake for about 40 minutes, or until tender. Let the potato cool slightly, then peel and coarsely grate enough to yield 1 cup; eat the rest.
- Heat the peanut oil in a large stockpot. Add the onion, celery, green bell pepper, carrot and ham and sauté over moderately high heat until the vegetables are wilted, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the shrimp, peanuts, parsley, garlic, salt, Old Bay Seasoning and bay leaf and sauté for 3 more minutes. Add the grated potato, fish stock and milk and bring just to a boil. Whisk in the cornstarch mixture and return to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 40 minutes. Discard the bay leaf and let the soup cool for 20 minutes.
- Working in batches, puree the soup with the spinach leaves in a blender or food processor until smooth. Strain the pureed soup into a large saucepan.
- To serve, gently reheat the soup over moderate heat. Add the crabmeat and warm for 1 minute. Ladle the soup into shallow bowls and garnish each serving with a Country Ham Crouton.
The best match is a German Riesling like a Joh. Jos. Prüm Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese, from the middle Mosel. Another fine choice is an Egon M&252;ller Scharzhofberger Auslese, from the Saar, which tends to produce steely wines.