yields four servings
extra-virgin olive oil
6 slices of bacon, chopped
2 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch dice
1 large onion, chopped
4 celery ribs from the heart with leaves, finely chopped
½ red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 fresh or dried bay leaf
salt and freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken broth
6 cups whole milk
12 ounces lump crabmeat, from the seafood counter
3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon seafood seasoning, such as Old Bay
3 tablespoons dry Sherry
4 tablespoons snipped chives
Put a medium pot over medium-high heat, add a drizzle of oil and the bacon and cook until the bacon is crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
Pour off a little of the bacon fat, leaving a thin, even layer. Add the potatoes, onion, celery, bell pepper and bay leaf to the pot, season with salt and pepper and cook for 7 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened. Stir in the flour and cook for 2 minutes. Add the chicken broth and, using a wooden spoon, scrape up all the brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Add the milk, cover the pot and bring to a simmer.
Run your fingers through the crabmeat to check for shell bits, then combine with the thyme and seafood seasoning. Uncover the pot, stir in the crabmeat and simmer for 6 to 7 minutes, until the potatoes are just fork-tender and the soup has thickened. Finish the chowder with the Sherry and serve with the crispy bacon, chives, oyster crackers and hot sauce.
bacon recipe courtesy of: Rachael Ray, "30 Minutes Meals," EveryDay with Rachael Ray, August/September 2006