Lightened-up Crab & Shrimp Chowder

Yesterday marked the beginning of Lent with Ash Wednesday.  For us Catholics this means no meat on this day and no eating between meals.  As I made my grocery list this past Sunday and planned out our meals for the week, I knew this was going to make Crock Pot Wednesday a bit of a challenge.

Unfortunately, last week I wasn’t thinking about Ash Wednesday approaching and had made one of the only seafood crock pot meals I have in my repertoire – Lettuce-Wrapped Seafood Fajitas.  Mike had been gone to Phoenix for 5 days and would be getting back very early Wednesday morning so I didn’t want to repeat last weeks meal and wanted to give him a healthy, home-cooked meal…since I can guarantee he didn’t eat or drink healthy while on a golf trip with a bunch of men 😉

Knowing that we had received a lot of snow and wind (like we always do when Mike goes south), I knew he would be spending his day back catching up at work and plowing our long lane which had filled in quite quickly with piles of hard, frozen snow.  I wanted to make something healthy but that would also warm both of us up from the arctic temperatures we’ve been experiencing (although it did get into the teens yesterday, which felt like a heat wave 😉 ).  Usually, by the time March comes I am well past wanting to make soups in the crock pot…but this year is a whole different story.

My favorite soups are creamy, rich soups that are full of color and flavor.  I’ve often made baked potato soup, Mexican-inspired soups, and even a few corn chowder soups.  A nice, hearty chowder began to stick in my mind. Mike and I both LOVE crab and shrimp so I thought, why not give a lightened-up version of crab and shrimp chowder a try.

As I made this soup, I was taken by the beautiful colors of all the ingredients.  I knew this was going to be good. Within 30 minutes our house was engulfed with a delicious aroma that both Mike and I couldn’t wait to dig into.  Of course, we had to leave to go to our indoor golf league before we could indulge, and since we were both unable to snack because of it being Ash Wednesday, our stomachs were already rumbling and we spent most of our golf league dreaming about what we were about to dig into when we arrived home.

Golf was even better because T.J. went along with us.  We take him a few times each season, and he does such a great job.  He practiced his putting on the putting green, made choo-choos out of golf tees (he’s a little obsessed with trains), and cheered Mama and Daddy on.  After a fun night of golf we walked into a home filled with the aroma of an abundance of flavors slow cooking together all evening.

Lightened -up Crab & Shrimp Chowder was everything I’d dreamed it would be.  It warmed us up on another cold evening, combined the perfect flavors, and filled both of our hungry bellies.  Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Here is what you’ll need on your grocery list:

**Depending on how big your servings are, this recipe makes enough to serve 4-8 people.  1 cup = approximately 200 calories.  If you are having it with something else, 1 cup should be plenty.  This was all we had for supper so I made our servings 2 cups which was still only 400 calories and filling**

1 lbs Red Potatoes

1 cup Fresh Sliced Mushrooms

8 Green Onions, chopped

1/2 cup Red Bell Pepper, chopped

2 1/2 cups Reduced Sodium Chicken Broth

1 1/2 cups Skim Milk

1/2 cup Fat Free Evaporated Milk

1/4 cup Flour

1/2 tsp Paprika

1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce

1/8-1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper (Depending on how spicy you like your food.  You can omit this ingredient if you don’t like things spicy at all)

1/8-1/4 tsp Black Pepper (Again, depending on how spicy you like your food.  I put 1/4 tsp of both ingredients in the soup which gave it a good bite)

3/4 lb Medium Cooked Shrimp

3/4 lb Imitation Crab

**Optional Topping – You could garnish this soup with parsley which would taste great and look beautiful.  Mike isn’t a big herb fan 😦 so I often have to skip this.  It would give it a great presentation.

Peel and cube potatoes and place in crock pot.  I think peeling the red potatoes is kind of a pain, so if you want to leave the skin on, that’s fine.  Some people don’t like the skin so I tend to always take it off for my soups.

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Add mushrooms, onion, bell pepper, chicken broth, milk, evaporated milk, flour, paprika, Worcestershire sauce, cayenne pepper, and black pepper.  Stir to combine.

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Cook on Low 5-6 hours.  (This is the total cook time including the next step)

About an hour before serving.  Cut the crab and shrimp into chunks.  I cut each piece in half which seemed like perfect bite-sizes.  Add crab and shrimp to crock pot and stir to combine.  Cook for another hour until crab and shrimp are heated through.  **If you are not going to be home an hour before serving, you can add this ingredient earlier.  I had to add ours before we went to golf, so about 3 hours before serving and it was fine**

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Serve and enjoy!  The great thing about this soup is that it is filled with so many flavors, that we had no reason to add any other toppings to it.  Hope you enjoy this as much as we did!

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