Crab and corn are a classic chowder combination, but there's no fresh corn in February. We've used hominy instead, giving this flavorful soup a satisfying bite and playing up the Southwest vibe of the avocado and cilantro toppings. Prep and Cook Time: about 30 minutes.
3 slices bacon
1 large leek
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 cup hominy, drained and rinsed
12 ounces red thin-skinned potatoes
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon lime juice
1/4 cup whipping cream
8 ounces Dungeness crab, cooked and shelled
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup cilantro, chopped
2 fresh jalapeño chiles
1 clove garlic
How to Make It
In a 4- to 6-quart pan over medium-high heat, cook bacon, chopped, until fat starts to render. Discard all but 1 teaspoon fat from pan. Add white part of leek, halved, rinsed, and thinly sliced; stir until limp. Add wine and boil until almost evaporated. Add chicken broth; 2 cups water; hominy; potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1/2-inch chunks; and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender when pierced, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, make cilantro purée (see below). Also pit, peel, and chop avocado; mix with lime juice. Stir whipping cream and salt and pepper to taste into chowder. Add Dungeness crab; cover and cook until heated through, stirring as little as possible to keep crab intact. Spoon chowder into bowls and top each with a tablespoon of cilantro purée and a spoonful of avocado.
To make the cilantro purée, in a blender, combine vegetable oil; olive oil; cilantro; chiles, rinsed, stemmed, and seeded; garlic, peeled; and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Whirl until smooth. Any leftovers can be spread on toast for an easy appetizer.
Wine pairing: With the rich crab, pungent chile, and herbal cilantro, we like a creamy, minerally Pinot Gris. Cline's Pinot Grigio-Chardonnay blend (California; $11) is great as well.