THE BITE: Winter arrived big time yesterday and as the mercury dropped and old man winter nipped at my nose, my stomach craved some hot warming soup. I wanted comfort soup; not some whimpy, thin, watered down “soup and sandwich” soup, but a soup that would qualify as a meal on its own.
As a child, thick homemade soups were common meals in my house. Anything from potato cheese, to white borscht (I have no idea why we never had the more common red beet borscht. Got a problem with that? Take it up with my mother), chicken noodle, split pea with ham to beef barley; all manners of soups were served. Little did I know that most of these soups were simple meal stretchers made from the leftover meals of the week.
The flavors and ingredients may have varied, but these soups were composed as meals. Not starters. That’s what I craved.
Randazzo’s spicy crab corn chowder soup ($8 small, $11 large) satisfied all my requirements. Thick, with an amazing amount of crab meat, this creamy soup is hearty enough to be a meal on it’s own.
The first thing I noticed when I opened up the container: this soup is ugly. So ugly, in fact, that my first thought was this has to be extremely good to get past the images in my mind of spooning what appeared to be spoiled cake batter into my pie hole.
I closed my eyes and put the first spoon full into my waiting mouth. The first taste was of the ocean with the flavor of sweet crab meat surfacing from the mass of cream and vegetables that make up the rest of this soup.
Oregano, celery, green peppers, onions all swim in the sea of sweet cream that form the basis of this chowder. After each spoonful of soup the back of my throat warms, not just from the temperature of the chowder, but from the capsaicin provided by what I’m guessing is white pepper. The heat is there, but it never overwhelms as the crab continually makes its presence known in each bite.
There is an interesting texture in this chowder. The crab meat is so plentiful, it provides what can best be described as almost a soft sand paper texture and here that’s a good thing; your mouth is filled with strands of crab. But then again, this chowder is thick, smooth and creamy. It’s a contrast of tastes and textures that makes your buds sing.
This was a damn good chowder. It was so filling that I couldn’t finish a large bowl for lunch and ate a very small dinner that night. Good job, Randazzo’s. Mission accomplished.
Randazzo’s Clam Bar, 2017 Emmons Avenue, (718) 615-0010.
The Bite is Sheepshead Bites’ weekly column where we explore the foodstuffs of Sheepshead Bay. Each week we check out a different offering from one of the many restaurants, delis, food carts, bakeries, butchers, fish mongers, or grocers in our neighborhood. If it’s edible, we’ll take a bite.