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Richard Tavis of San Francisco swears by the buttermilk option and suggests a couple jolts of hot pepper sauce (Tabasco) to set off the crab.

Crab and Corn Chowder

This is one great meal--thick, creamy, and rich, with the white of crab and potatoes contrasted with the yellow corn and green celery leaves. It's simple and quick to make, immensely satisfying, and quite spectacular as company food. Serve hot as a meal to 4 people...or as a substantial first course to 8.

  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, with leaves, chopped
  • 3-4 Tablespoons flour
  • 4 cups fresh corn (6 ears--but frozen is okay in a pinch)--2 cups pureed til smooth and 2 cups left whole
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 2 potatoes, cubed
  • 1 cup heavy cream (or substitute buttermilk)
  • ½ pound backfin crabmeat, picked clean of shells (or use canned backfin--it's excellent for soup)

Garnish: chopped celery leaves

Melt butter and saute onion and celery. Sprinkle with flour and heat, stirring, until bubbly. Stir in pureed corn and stock, bring to a boil, and whisk until thickened. Add the potatoes and simmer 15 minutes until the pototo is tender. When 15 minutes from serving, stir in cream or buttermilk, crab, and corn and season with salt and pepper. Bring just to boil, then lower heat and simmer 5-10 minutes. Ladle into bowls and garnish with chopped celery leaves.