Bacon and Crab Chowder

From Rachael Ray

EVOO

6 slices bacon, chopped

2 russet potatoes, peeled and diced 1/2 inch

1 large onion, chopped

4 celery ribs from the heart, with leaves, finely chopped

1/2 red bell pepper, finely chopped

1 fresh or dried bay leaf

Salt and freshly ground pepper

3 tbsp flour

2 c chicken broth

6 c whole milk

12 oz lump crabmeat

3 tbsp chopped fresh thyme

1 tbsp Old Bay

3 tbsp dry Sherry

4 tbsp snipped chives

Oyster crackers

Hot sauce

1. Put a medium pot over medium-high heat, add a drizzle of EVOO 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.

2. 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 scrap up all the brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Add the milk, cover the pot, and bring to a simmer.

3. Run your fingers through the crabmeat and check for shell bits, then combine with thyme and Old Bay. 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.

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