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Many supermarkets now carry a decent selection of “exotic” mushroom varieties, such as shiitake, oyster, and cremini mushrooms. You can make this delicious chowder using a single variety or a combination. Avoid white mushrooms though; they don’t have the flavor and texture needed for this hearty soup.
Makes 8 servings


~ 5 cups assorted mushrooms, about 1 lb
~ 3/4 cup water
~ 6 tbsp butter
~ 3/4 cup diced onion
~ 1/4 cup diced celery
~ 1/2 cup diced leek (white and light green parts)
~ 2 tsp minced garlic
~ 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
~ 1 qt Chicken Broth
~ 2¼ cups diced russet potatoes (peeled)
~ 3/4 cup milk
~ 6 tbsp dry sherry
~ 2 tsp heavy cream
~ 1 tsp salt, or as needed
~ 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper, or as needed
~ 10 oz lump backfin crabmeat, picked over for shells


1. Cut the stems from the mushrooms and slice the mushroom caps. Set the caps aside. Simmer the stems in the water for 30 minutes to make a mushroom broth. Strain the broth and set aside.

2. Heat 5 tablespoons of the butter in a large soup pot. Add the onion, celery, leek, and garlic. Cook until tender, stirring occasionally, about 4 to 6 minutes.

3. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, for 3 to 4 minutes. Gradually whisk in the chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes. Strain through a sieve, pressing hard on the solids to recover as much thickened broth as possible. Return the broth to a simmer and discard the solids.

4. Add the potatoes to the broth and simmer until tender, about 15 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and add the milk, 4 tablespoons sherry, and heavy cream. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

5. Meanwhile, melt the remaining tablespoon of butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the sliced mushroom caps and sauté until tender, about 7 to 10 minutes. Add the mushroom broth, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to loosen any particles of mushroom stuck to the pan. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

6. Stir the mushrooms with their liquid and the crabmeat into the chowder. Check the seasoning once more and make any necessary adjustments. Serve in heated bowls, adding the remaining sherry to the individual bowls, if desired.

Recipe from The New Book of Soups by The Culinary Institute of America (Lebhar-Friedman, December 2009, Hardcover/$35.00)


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