5 spots to get a hearty bowl of soup

Marylanders are spoiled when it comes to culinary ways to stay warm in the winter months. From crab soup to chili, local restaurants ladle hearty versions of wintry fare into bowls every day.

One of Suzanne Sullivan's favorite cold weather meals is a big bowl of jalapeno crab corn chowder from Lures in Crownsville.

"It's a different spin on the typical crab soup and definitely has some kick, which I like," says the Severna Park resident, noting that the Lures kitchen isn't afraid to add serious heat to the soup.

Whether you are, like Sullivan, an adventurous heat-seeker, or you're a traditionalist who wants nothing more than a classic bowl of French onion soup, you'll find a lot to love in local kitchens this winter. Next time you're in the mood for a bowl of something steaming, try one of these great local options.

Jalapeno Crab Corn Chowder at Lures

Suzanne Sullivan's favorite chowder has been on Lure's menu since opening day – nearly eight years – says chef and owner Chuck Soja.

"It was a recipe my dad made," he explains. "We tweaked it a little and put it on the menu and people love it."

Made with fresh jumbo lump crab, the soup is chunky and thick. A combination of sweet and hot flavors keep it lively. Fans of traditional crab soup will find something new to love in this bowl.

Lures Bar and Grille, 1397 Generals Highway, Crownsville
410-923-1606, luresbarandgrille.com

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Oyster Stew at Fisherman's Inn

Fisherman's Inn's oyster stew is only on the restaurant's menu during cold weather months, and its fans anxiously await its appearance.

"Before we put it on every fall, people are always asking when it's coming back," says manager Rebecca Mobley.

The soup's allure isn't mysterious. "Our oyster stew is chock-full of oysters from the Chesapeake Bay," she explains. "We use high quality cream and butter, and every single order is made fresh."

Many soups are better the day after being made, but this stew is best enjoyed just after cooking, when the oysters are plump and the broth is rich and full of great bay flavor.

Fisherman's Inn, 3116 Main Street, Grasonville
410-827-8807, fishermansinn.com

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Mixed-Up Crab Soup at Island View Waterfront Cafe

Eight years ago, a waitress at Island View Waterfront Café made a truly fortuitous mistake. While in the middle of spooning crab soup into a bowl, she was called away. When she returned, she lost track of the type of crab soup she was dishing out. The end result was a "mixed-up" bowl full of half cream of crab and half Maryland crab soup.

The combination was an instant hit.

"A lot of times, people have a hard time making a decision because both are so delicious," says Island View owner Brian Liang. "This is a different texture and flavor. It's velvety, but the cream of crab thins a little and you get the vegetables and spice from the Maryland crab."

The result is creamy, spicy and positively irresistible.

Island View Waterfront Café, 2542 Island View Road, Essex
410-687-9799, islandviewwaterfrontcafe.com

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Onion Soup at Park Tavern

The soup selection at Park Tavern changes daily, with a set menu during the week so diners know what to expect each day between Monday and Friday. (Weekend soups change each week.) On Wednesdays, the chef turns out a luscious French onion soup that gets a big response.

"People love it," says Greg Keating, managing partner. "It's perfect for this season and includes everything people love about French onion soup — lots of melted Swiss cheese and a big piece of crusty sourdough bread."

Park Tavern, 580 Ritchie Highway, Severna Park
410-793-5930, parktavernsp.com

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Chili at Iron Rooster

Certain winter days cry out for chili, and Iron Rooster is ready to answer that call. The downtown Annapolis restaurant makes its chili with brisket and without beans, relying on the power of slow cooking to coax flavor from the ingredients.

"We slow cook the brisket all day long, which breaks down the connective tissue, so it's just a chunk of meat," says owner Kyle Algaze. "Then there's just a little heat, but nothing overpowering. We cook the chili basically all day and all night."

The recipe is a popular one. Algaze says the kitchen sells about 20 gallons of chili every weekend.
If you want to try the chili but love Iron Rooster's breakfast foods, which are available all day, don't fret; this chili comes with breakfast, too. Every bowl is served with a wedge of cornbread waffle topped with cheddar and green onion sour cream.

Algaze suggests pairing the chili with the restaurant's spicy Sriracha-rita, a margarita blended with Sriracha to give it a spicy kick. Sounds like something that will warm you right up.

Iron Rooster, 12 Market Space, Annapolis
410-990-1600, ironroosterallday.com

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By Kit Waskom Pollard

Click next below for a couple of the amazing soup recipes so you can make them at home.

A couple of the amazing soup recipes

Fisherman's Inn Oyster Stew Recipe

People travel for miles to visit Fisherman's Inn during the cold weather months when its decadent oyster stew — the creation of Executive Chef Paul Wernsdorfer — makes an appearance on the menu. Here is the recipe.

Yield 1 ½ quarts

3 tablespoons butter
½ onion, finely diced
2 stalks celery, finely diced
1 pint heavy cream
1 pint half and half
1 pint shucked oysters, in their liquor
4 cubes chicken bouillon
½ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Old Bay to garnish

  1. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add finely diced onion and celery and saute until vegetables are soft, but have not started to brown.
  2. Add cream and half and half and bring the mixture to a simmer.
  3. Add nutmeg, salt and bouillon cubes. Stir to blend and bring to a boil.
  4. At this point, you may strain the soup through a fine sieve or leave the onion and celery in the final soup.
  5. Add oysters and liquor and bring back to a boil. Immediately after the soup starts boiling, remove it from heat.
  6. Check for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Ladle into bowls, sprinkle lightly with Old Bay and serve immediately.

Iron Rooster's Chili for a Crowd Recipe

Iron Rooster's chili is more flavorful than spicy, relying on a mixture of spices to create a full, robust taste. Mix up a giant batch (this recipe makes over five gallons), invite some friends over, and enjoy it all day — or week — long.

Yields 5 ¼ gallons

2 beef briskets, fat trimmed
20 ounces chili powder
12 ounces paprika
4 ounces cumin
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
4 ounces salt
4 ounces pepper
Cooking oil
14 onions, chopped
15 green peppers, chopped
5 pounds celery, chopped
6 ounces garlic, chopped
6 bay leaves
24 ounces tomato paste
3 tomatoes, diced

  1. After trimming the fat out of the brisket, pass it through the large plate of a meat grinder one time.
  2. Prepare a smoker to heat at 250 degrees.
  3. Mix together the chili powder, paprika, cumin, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper.
  4. Toss the ground brisket with ¾ of the seasoning mix.
  5. Lay the brisket on half sheet trays and smoke at 250 degrees for two hours.
  6. Cover the bottom of a large stock pot with cooking oil and heat over medium heat.
  7. Add onion, celery, peppers, bay leaves and garlic and saute for 20 minutes.
  8. Add the remaining ¼ of seasoning mix and tomato paste and saute until tomato browns slightly.
  9. Stir in tomatoes then add smoked meat and simmer for 45 minutes.