Florida Stone Crab Soup

I tasted my life’s first soup made with delicious Florida stone crabs at Miller’s Oyster House in Everglades City forty minutes south of Naples, on the edge of the vast wetlands national park of that name. Restaurant owner Bobby Miller insisted he’d never written down the real recipe for this soup, beloved during the annual October 15-May 15 stone crab season, but he was happy enough to rattle off ingredients. The basic underpinning is tomato-based Manhattan clam chowder, minus the clams and clam juice, of course. The wine, as usual, is my idea.

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 carrots, peeled and sliced

1 green bell pepper, chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

1 onion, chopped

1 large garlic clove, minced

¼ cup dry white wine

½ teaspoon dried thyme

¼ teaspoon dried rosemary

2 bay leaves

1 cup tomato juice (or V8, or Bloody Mary mix for extra kick)

1 cup canned peeled tomatoes

½ cup canned crushed tomatoes

1 pound potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks

1 pound Florida stone crab meat, cut in chunks

Tabasco or other hot sauce

Salt and black pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large pot or kettle and sauté the carrots, bell pepper, celery and onion until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the white wine and stir until it evaporates. Add the herbs and tomato products, then the potato chunks. Cover and simmer gently until the potatoes are tender, 30-40 minutes. Only then add the stone crab meat, which will shred and incorporate into the soup. Add the Tabasco. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Remove the bay leaves. Serve hot in bowls. Serves 8-10.


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