20 September, 2008

Laura Lynn Cream of Crab Soup

The wholesale meat market I go to doesn't just sell meat. They have a big freezer case with food-service-sized pouches of frozen vegetables, and they have a small section of canned food that never seems to have the same stuff stacked up in it two weeks in a row. That section is where I found standard (15-ounce) cans of Laura Lynn Cream of Crab soup for 25 cents each.

Now, I'm not a big fan of canned soup. There are a few varieties I like, but not that many; my family probably uses three or four cans of condensed soup a year. But for a quarter, I figured I'd take a chance. What the hell, the worst that could happen was I'd find out it tastes like shit and then blog about it, just like I do with other crappy canned stuff I buy. I took home two cans.

To my surprise, however, it wasn't that bad.

Prepared according to label directions, this cream of crab soup is pretty bland and nondescript. It has a bit of a crabby flavor, and there are lots of thready little bits of crabmeat, but it's a lot like every other canned cream soup out there - milky, mild, and meh. What surprised me was how delicious it was with a little bit of dressing up.

For example: Some friends dropped in for a visit a few weeks ago, and we invited them to stay for dinner. I needed a fast appetizer. I prepared a can of Laura Lynn Cream of Crab soup using 3/4 of a can of milk and 1/4 can of half-and-half. While it was heating, I took a small tub of freshly shucked oysters from the fridge and quickly sauteed them in a bit of butter, cooking them only until the edges started to curl a bit, then dropped two oysters and a small lump of butter into each of 6 small soup cups. When the soup was done, I ladled some into each cup, added a generous grind of fresh nutmeg, a little salt and pepper, and garnished with a sprig of parsley. It was excellent.

Shortly after using up that second can, I went back to the market and picked up a wholesale unit of it (12 cans) and I'm glad I did - I haven't seen the stuff for sale since.

I like to use it as a quick base for impromptu chowders. It really is amazing what half a cup of leftover lobster and a few chopped quahogs can do in a saucepan full of this "cream of crab" soup, but you don't even need costly ingredients for a winning combo - a small can of chopped clams, or some farmed fresh mussels, or even some chopped leftover fish and a handful of diced potatoes are wonderful as well. I hope I can find some more when I run out.


Andi of Longmeadow Farm said...

Oh my! Dave ~ our family just polished off some fresher then fresh oysters (I shucked) and now that I am finished I come upon your post about the Cream of Crab. I will have to keep an eye and a ear open for this soup, as you have convinced me this is a good use of all the mentioned ingredients. Is the soup just local to your area? I live in the Mid Atlantic not far from the Chesapeake Bay.

Dave said...

It took a little research, but I've found that the Laura Lynn brand is a private label made for and sold by the Ingles supermarket chain, which operates over 200 stores in the Southeast US. Their stores are found in Alabama, Georgia, North and South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.

I have no idea how my local meat wholesaler in Springfield Massachusetts managed to get their hands on half a truckload of it.