CREAMY CRAB SOUP WITH LEEKS AND SHITAKES

4 tablespoons butter

1 large leek, white and light green parts chopped (about 2 cups)

4 large garlic cloves, chopped

4 tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon white pepper

1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning

2 ½ cups good quality fish or lobster stock*

⅓ cup sherry

3 cups light cream

4 ounces shitake mushrooms, stems discarded and caps sliced

1 ½ tablespoons tomato paste

1-pound premium quality crab meat

½ cup chopped chives

Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven or soup pot, over medium high heat.  Add the leeks and garlic and cook until tender and fragrant, about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the flour, salt, white pepper, and Old Bay to the pan and stir until all of the moisture is absorbed and cook for another minute.  Add the stock and sherry to the pan and stir until smooth.  Add the cream, mushrooms, and tomato paste to the pan, stirring frequently as the soup thickens and turns pink.  Cook on low for 10-12 minutes, continuing to stir frequently, to let soup thicken and flavors meld.

Add ⅔ of the crab meat to the pot and continue cooking on simmer, stirring frequently for another 8-10 minutes.  Stir in half of the chives just before serving.

Serve hot in bowls with a couple of tablespoons of the crab meat in the center of the bowl and garnished with remaining chives.

*If you do not have access to good quality stock, use chicken or vegetable stock and add 2 tablespoons of seafood or lobster base instead.

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