Spicy Maryland Crab Soup

by Caterina Borg, Good Food Gourmet on March 21, 2011

It was early on a Sunday morning when the phone started ringing. Upon answering, I heard my friend ask “what are you doing for lunch today?” It took me a minute to understand what he was asking since I was still half asleep. When I finally managed to gather a few coherent words I blurted out, “Lunch, I haven’t even made it out of bed yet for breakfast!”  As the conversation unfolded, he told me that it had already been decided what we were doing for lunch… “Crabs” he said, “We’re going to get some crabs to celebrate this first beautiful day of Spring and we’re going to eat them at your house.”

Having been a native Marylander for many years, I knew that crab season didn’t start until early May when the water in the Bay begins to warm up and gently coaxes the crabs to move to more shallow water. Nevertheless, we planned on ordering a bushel (approximately 5 dozen) from one of my favorite places called Harris’s Crab House across the Bay Bridge…the gorgeous 20 minute drive over the large expanse of the majestic Chesapeake Bay is well worth the effort.

Still half asleep, I still can’t remember what I said, but I guess I had agreed to this hastily scheduled feast, because at promptly 2pm everyone was at my door with mallets in hand.

Needless to say, the feast was incredible. The crabs were a perfect, delicious example of the sweet meat inherent in those lovely blues gently enhanced by the traditional J.O. seasoning and of course some white vinegar and melted butter for dipping. Can life get any better, I wondered? Absolutely…because there were leftover claws, and my future was going to include a huge batch of my famous Maryland crab soup. This soup is full of assorted vegetables, very low in fat and also low carb. Serve it with or without some crusty bread or the more traditional oyster crackers, and you have achieved nirvana in a bowl.

Spicy Maryland Crab Soup


18 cups of filtered water (approximately 1 gallon plus 3 cups)

2 dozen crab legs

2 large carrots, peeled and cut in half

2 large celery stalks, peeled and cut in half

1 medium onion

¼ bunch of parsley (leave the rest to be juiced)

4 black peppercorns

2 bay leaves

**do not add salt at this point

Juice (about 2 cups altogether):

2 large carrots

4 celery stalks, use center pieces and heart with leaves

1 large green pepper

Use the rest of the parsley

Other ingredients that are added last:

1-16oz can of ‘special’ crabmeat (some people use claw but I prefer special)

1 can of petite diced tomato

1 or 2 large potatoes, diced

2 large carrots, diced

2 large celery stalks, diced

1-16oz bag of frozen sweet corn (fresh is even better)

1-16oz bag of petite lima beans

1 small can of tomato paste

Salt to taste (add Old Bay first and then adjust salt after that)

1-2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning ** start with 1 teaspoon and add more if you prefer

½ -1 teaspoon cayenne pepper ** depending on how spicy you like it

**The vegetables I used are the traditional ones most commonly used in Maryland crab soup. Feel free to substitute other vegetables if you prefer.

First you need to make the stock. Add all of the ingredients into a large pot and cook on a slow simmer for a few hours until the stock has reduced by half. At this point, strain out all of the ingredients into another pot which is the same in size. Then add the carrots and celery along with the 2 cups of juice and allow the vegetables to cook, about 15 minutes. Next add all of the other ingredients except the crabmeat and the salt and allow them to continue cooking for another 10-15 minutes on a slow simmer. Lastly, add all of the crabmeat and adjust for salt at this time. Serve as is or with crusty bread or oyster crackers.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella March 28, 2011 at 7:25 p

That looks marvellous Catarina! I’ve never tried this but I know from looking at the ingredients that it would be delicious! :D

avatar Caterina Borg, Good Food Gourmet March 28, 2011 at 3:29 p

Hello my darling Lorraine! Always so good to hear from you sweet girl…I’ve been busy cooking and baking, can you tell??

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