In the spring of 2019 I visited an estate sale here on Chincoteague Island. Upon entering I could tell this was my kinda lady. Beautiful kitchen equipment, lovely nautical themed linens, vintage Shore Stop drink coolers (growing up, EVERYONE had one to take to the beach). All my favorite books lined the shelves – Beautiful Swimmers, A Sand County Almanac, A Gift From The Sea, random Eastern Shore history books.
It was an older couple’s family beach house for decades, filled with treasures collected from a lifetime of loving this unique little spot I’m lucky to call home. I couldn’t help but feel an instant connection.
My favorite finds were two advertising items. The first is a full page ad for Old Bay Seasoning’s 75th Anniversary, that ran in the Baltimore Sun back on Memorial Day weekend of 2014. It’s framed in a really rustic nautical looking frame – I just love it. It is right at home in my living room!The second was a poster for the 1988 Crab Derby held in Crisfield, Maryland. Taped on the back is a copy of a check made out to Mrs. Joan Folio. She had entered her “Crab Bisque Chincoteague” in their recipe contest that year, and took home the Grand Prize! Which, is truly an honor. My mom and dad live in Crisfield, so that made it special to me too.
I also had picked up a binder of recipes that she’d collected – that has every winning recipe from the Crab Derby going back all the way to 1963! I’m pleased to report that her Crab Bisque was in the binder as well. So when I got everything home and connected the dots I was stoked. I couldn’t wait to make her recipe.
I’ve made it many times since then, always meaning to snag a photo and share this story here on the blog – but it was always inhaled before I had the time to do so. It truly is the best crab soup I’ve ever had in my life.
It’s pretty much a standard cream of crab base- but the addition of lemon pepper seasoning really gives it a little something special. There’s a little bit of cheddar that also makes it stand out, giving it a nice bite. And there are no fillers – no bullshit onions or celery. Just CRAB.
I’d tried to look up Mrs. Joan in the past couple years – googling her name to no avail. If I’d found her I don’t know what I would have done – maybe just sent a postcard proclaiming my love of her bisque. I never found anything, but still continued to think of her often, and when I did – she would always bring a smile to my face.
Flash forward to last week when we steamed our first batch of crabs for the year. I made the bisque with the leftovers I’d picked, AND managed to get a photo. Sitting down to write this blog post I thought, “let me give it one more search”. And there she was, right at the top of the search results – her obit from August 20, 2020.She’d evidently struggled with Alzheimer’s since 2018, and COVID-19 is what brought her to meet her maker last summer. She was 86. Had a beautiful family with children and grandchildren. It was great to finally get to read about her, and see her picture – she was exactly the kind of person I’d painted a picture of in my mind. They even mentioned her love of Chincoteague in the article…
I never had the pleasure to meet Carol Joan Folio, but I have a pretty good feeling that we would have been fast friends. Estate sales always kind of make me sad, but it brings a smile to my face knowing I will give these things new life in our home. I hope it would bring a smile to hers too. Cheers to you, Joan!
Crab Bisque Chincoteague
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
4 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups cream
3 Tbsp sherry
1 tsp lemon pepper seasoning
2 tsp seafood seasoning (J.O. #1 is my go-to)
3/4 cup shredded cheddar
1 lb lump crab meat
chopped parsley, for garnish
Melt butter in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add flour and whisk, cooking for about 2 minutes, to make a roux.
Slowly add the milk and heavy cream, whisking constantly, until mixture starts to thicken. About 5 minutes.
Whisk in cheddar, sherry, seafood seasoning, lemon pepper, and 1 Tbsp chopped parsley. Gently fold in the crab meat. Season to taste with salt.
Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with additional fresh parsley.
Source: Mrs. Carol Joan Folio