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Kitchen Mailbox Countdown to Dinner Dining
Countdown to Dinner: Crab soup a spicy palate teaser

Thursday, February 08, 2001

Tested by Nancy Anderson

Thomas Lacey got the idea for today's Countdown recipe for Maryland Crab Soup after dining in a South Hills restaurant.

"When we came home, I said to my wife, 'That was so-o-o good.' So I found some crab in the house and just made it up," he said.

His invention -- a spicy yet simple to prepare crab soup for two -- would fit nicely into an intimate Valentine's Day dinner.

The Laceys, of West Mifflin, love seafood, especially shrimp and lobster. A highlight of their trip to Ireland was the fresh lobster they got off the fishing boats in Connemara.

After Lacey retired as art education professor from Indiana University of Pennsylvania a few years ago, he started pitching in with dinnertime cooking.

His wife, Eileen, is a registered dietitian who recently retired as food service director from West Mifflin Area School District. Her recipe for Linguine in White Clam Sauce was a Countdown winner on March 4, 1999.

The father of five grown children ages 30 to 42, Lacey said, in retrospect, he doesn't know how he survived the child-rearing years.

"When you're young, you have so much energy," he said.

True. But when you're older, you have more time to concoct delicious dishes in the kitchen.

Maryland Crab Soup

1 1/2 tablespoons Old Bay Seasoning, see note
1 1/2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 (6-ounce) cans fancy crabmeat
1 small onion
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Salt and pepper to taste

Dissolve Old Bay Seasoning in vinegar. Add crab and marinate for 5 minutes.

Dissolve the cornstarch in the chicken broth.

Slice the onion.

Combine all ingredients with the tomatoes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Remove lid and cook 5 minutes more. Serve in hollowed-out, crusty sourdough bread bowls (Lacey gets his at Panera Bakery) with a crisp garden salad. Makes 2 servings.

Tester's note: We had differing opinions on the amount of Old Bay in the soup. One thought it was fine, the other that it overpowered the crab. We suggest starting with 1 teaspoon of Old Bay, tasting halfway through cooking and adding more if desired.

Do you have an entree, salad or vegetable side dish recipe (no desserts, please!) that can be made in 30 minutes or less from six ingredients or fewer (not counting water, salt and pepper)? Share it with Countdown to Dinner.

The PG tests all recipes and if we select your recipe for publication, you'll receive a free selection from our cookbook grab bag of current releases.

Send your recipe to Countdown to Dinner, Post-Gazette Food, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh, PA 15222, or fax to 412-263-1313. Please include your name, neighborhood and daytime phone number. Or e-mail to: nanderson@post-gazette.com. Questions? Call 412-263-1760.

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