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Charlestown takes first place at Maryland Seafood Festival

Crab soup recipe beats some of the best in the business

Created date

November 12th, 2012

Let s be honest, the last place that comes to mind when you think of award-winning recipes is a retirement community. Unless of course you re talking about Charlestown, which took top prize for its classic Maryland crab soup at this year s Maryland Seafood Festival s Crab Soup Cook-off. The Catonsville-based Erickson Living community competed against more than two dozen other restaurants, hotels, and caterers including Azure Annapolis, Bella Napoli Italian Restaurant, Federal House Bar & Grill, Jimmy s Famous Seafood, and Oceanaire Seafood Room.

Against the odds

We were thrilled to win first place! says Larry Snowberger, director of dining services for Charlestown. Our team had a great time representing Charlestown and meeting very knowledgeable seafood connoisseurs from across the state. We enjoy doing all we can to create exceptional dining experiences for our residents, and this award demonstrates our commitment to that goal. Although this was Charlestown s first time competing at the festival, Riderwood, an Erickson Living community located in Silver Spring, where Snowberger previously served as assistant director of dining services, has competed for the last four years. The award adds to several accomplishments Charlestown s dining services team has achieved since Snowberger became director. They launched an interactive nutrition website in 2011, enabling residents to make informed food choices. And over the last year, the community has also partnered with a nearby farm to supply locally grown, farm-fresh produce to the community s on-site restaurants. A lot of planning and taste testing goes into each and every menu we develop to ensure we re not only serving the best possible tasting foods, but plenty of healthy options as well, says Snowberger. Winning this award just confirms what we knew all along: you don t have to sacrifice quality or taste just because you re cooking for large quantities of people. The annual seafood festival, which attracts more than 20,000 visitors from across the mid-Atlantic, offers a variety of music, arts and crafts, and, of course, the best seafood Maryland has to offer. Charlestown entered soups in three categories: classic Maryland crab, cream of crab, and alternative crab (such as crab and roasted corn chowder).

Shared success

The winning recipe was a family recipe from one of our team members, says Executive Chef Susan Seykoski. We took the original recipe and tweaked it until we were convinced we had the best possible flavor and taste. The final recipe became Charlestown s classic Maryland crab soup. Charlestown now serves the winning crab soup at all six of its restaurants. We wanted all of our residents and staff to have the opportunity to sample the soup and enjoy our success, says Seykoski. So what is the secret behind Charlestown s award-winning soup? According to Snowberger, it s easy: As thousands of Marylanders pick crabs after a feast for the sole purpose of making crab soup, the pressure was on to present a tasty recipe. Our secret is simple: use fresh, local product, and cook it with love!

Charlestown s ' award-winning crab soup

Serves 8 Ingredients 36 oz water 1 tbsp chicken bouillon 2 tbsp crab bouillon 2 tsp Old Bay seasoning 2 oz bacon, diced 1 bay leaf 2 tsp sugar Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 2 whole crabs, cleaned and rinsed 12 oz canned diced tomatoes 1 tsp hot pepper sauce 1/3 cup sliced carrots 1/3 cup diced celery 1/3 cup corn kernels 1/3 cup green beans ' cup lima beans 1 cup cabbage, diced ' cup yellow onion, chopped 2 medium red potatoes, diced ' lb turnips, diced 5 oz lump crabmeat, shelled 5 oz claw crabmeat, shelled Chopped fresh parsley Directions In large stock pot, saut bacon to render fat. Add celery, onions, and carrots. Add water. Bring to a boil, then add chicken and crab bouillon, Old Bay seasoning, bay leaf, and sugar. Stir until bouillon is dissolved. Season with salt and pepper. Cut the whole crabs in half, add them to the pot, and bring to a second boil. Remove whole crabs after 5 to 10 minutes. Skim off any excess froth created by the crab parts. Add the tomatoes and hot sauce; stir to combine. Add the corn, green beans, lima beans, cabbage, and turnips, bring to a low boil, and cook for 10 minutes. Add the potatoes and cook until tender. Add the crabmeat and cook for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with chopped parsley.