Thursday, September 03, 2009

Cream of Whatever Soup in the Hot, Hot Summer

On last night's Top Chef, hometown girl Jessie, along with Bob Marley-boy Ron, served New England clam chowder to 300 airmen and their families stationed in the desert just outside Las Vegas.

Ron and Jessie obviously did a decent job with the soup - the airmen liked it, plus they managed to avoid the Judge's Table - but during the course of the episode, a couple of people commented on the wisdom of serving a hot, creamy soup in 100 degree heat. Tom started the discussion, which Gail picked up on, saying that she doesn't mind the hot, but does mind the cream. Preeti, while scrambling at Judge's Table, tried that old "throw somebody else under the bus" routine, mentioning that she didn't think clam chowder was a wise choice, considering the location.

After hearing all these comments, I was left wondering why it never occurred to me that clam chowder was a bad choice. Then I remembered: oh, right, I live in Maryland. Where summertime is crab season and, therefore, summertime is also cream of crab soup season.

In early August, Elizabeth Large did a top 10 cream of crab soups on her blog. She timed the post to coincide with Restaurant Week, when several area restaurants participated in a crab soup cookoff in the Inner Harbor. I found this in the comments:
Cream of crab soup in August? Can we expect Top Ten ice creams in January?
This used to be the only time you could make it, when crabs were in season. So Baltimoreans think of this as the right time to eat it. EL

The summer after I graduated from college, my friend Alison and I made it our job to discover the best cream of crab soup in Annapolis. While I'll always be partial to Annapolis Seafood's carryout, my favorite in-restaurant version comes from Carroll's Creek Cafe (which made it on Elizabeth Large's list). And the best way to eat it is sitting out on the CCC deck, watching the boats in Spa Creek. I must've done that ten times that summer, and the heat never bothered me once.

So I'm going to have to give this one to Jessie. She's a Maryland girl through and through, so why wouldn't she go the chowdah route? Cream in the summer? That's just how we roll.

Reminder: if you're looking for more Top Chef coverage, we are all over it at All Top Chef. ALL over it.

1 comment:

Cail said...

There is NEVER an inappropriate time for clam chowder-- when I was a kid, I used to order it for breakfast in restaurants that served it.

I don't know if the pantry at the base had clam juice as an ingredient, but they could have avoided the cream issue by making a Rhode Island clam chowder instead of a New England one.

Note: I am making chowder this weekend.


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