Crab Soup

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Crab Soup

This rich and creamy crab soup seasoned with Old Bay is the essence of the Eastern shore.

Crab Soup

We spent last weekend at the Eastern shore celebrating my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. Naturally, we ate A LOT of Maryland blue crabs, which are in season late spring to early fall. This recipe is inspired by a crab soup I had during our stay. It’s rich, creamy, and seasoned simply with lemon and Old Bay.

This is an admittedly decadent soup. Please don’t be tempted to substitute the half & half with milk. It doesn’t work unless you add more butter and flour, which of course defeats the whole purpose of making it lighter. I promise it’s worth it!

What you’ll need to make Crab Soup

how to make crab soup

If possible, use fresh-off-the-boat crab meat. It comes in a clear plastic container and is usually resting on ice in the seafood department. It’s not always available depending on the season and region, so your second-best option is refrigerated crab meat, such as Phillip’s, which is readily available year round. Just avoid shelf-stable canned crab meat; it contains additives that affect the taste and texture of the meat.

Old Bay seasoning is a spice blend that you can find at most supermarkets near the seafood department. If you’d like to make your own, I recommend this recipe. I love Old Bay and use it in many recipes, such as Maryland Crab Cakes, Salmon Cakes, Old Bay Shrimp Salad, Chesapeake Corn with Tomatoes and Basil, and Peel n’ Eat Shrimp.

How to make Crab Soup

how to make crab soup

To begin, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, then add the flour.

how to make crab soup

Whisk for about 1 minute, until well blended.

how to make crab soup

Whisking constantly, gradually add the half & half.

how to make crab soup

Add the mustard, Old Bay, salt, and pepper. Bring to boil, whisking frequently (be sure to scrape the edges of the pot, where the flour mixture tends to settle).

how to make crab soup

As soon as the soup starts to boil, reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, until thickened, about 30 seconds.

how to make crab soup

Stir in the sherry and crabmeat. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

how to make crab soup

If the soup is too thick, add water, little by little, to thin it out (it will thicken the longer it sits on the stove, even off of the heat). Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with chives. Serve with lemon wedges, if desired.

Crab Soup

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Crab Soup

This rich and creamy crab soup seasoned with Old Bay is the essence of the Eastern shore.

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 5 Minutes
Cook Time: 15 Minutes
Total Time: 20 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups half & half
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning, plus more for serving (see note)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry
  • 1/2 pound lump crabmeat, picked over to remove any shells
  • Finely chopped chives, for garnish
  • Lemon wedges, for serving (optional; see note)

Instructions

  1. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the flour and whisk for about 1 minute, until well blended.
  2. Whisking constantly, gradually add the half & half. Add the mustard, Old Bay seasoning, salt, and pepper. Bring to boil, whisking frequently (be sure to scrape the edges of the pot, where the flour mixture tends to settle). As soon as the soup starts to boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, uncovered, until thickened, about 30 seconds. Stir in the sherry and crabmeat. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. If the soup is too thick, add water, little by little, to thin it out (it will thicken the longer it sits on the stove, even off of the heat). Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with chives. Serve with lemon wedges, if desired.
  3. Note: Old Bay seasoning is sold in the seafood department at most supermarkets. It can also be ordered online or made from scratch.
  4. Note: Lemon is really only necessary if not using the sherry.

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (4 servings)
  • Calories: 475
  • Fat: 37 g
  • Saturated fat: 23 g
  • Carbohydrates: 17 g
  • Sugar: 11 g
  • Fiber: 0 g
  • Protein: 18 g
  • Sodium: 580 mg
  • Cholesterol: 167 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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Reviews & Comments

  • Does a hot sauce or worchestire sauce add to a crab soup?

    • — Diane on January 3, 2021
    • Reply
    • I think you could add a touch of either as a flavor booster.

      • — Jenn on January 4, 2021
      • Reply
  • I enjoyed the soup, but, for me it was too rich. Too much cream – organic cream – 4 cups. I think I would add more wine (VS Sherry) and broth next time. As well, I added much more mustard and old bay. I like hot sauce, so I am not sure if some hot sauce would enhance taste or take away from it.
    .

    • — Diane on January 3, 2021
    • Reply
  • The crab soup is delicious, easy and fast. Question, can it be frozen?

    • — Peggy Wimberly on December 30, 2020
    • Reply
    • Glad you liked it! With all the dairy, I don’t think it will freeze very well — sorry!

      • — Jenn on December 31, 2020
      • Reply
  • I made this for Christmas dinner and everyone LOVED it! I did add some onion and celery sautéed with the butter but otherwise I made it just like the recipe states and it was perfect. My husband said it was the best he’s ever had and were from the Eastern Shore and have had a lot:)

    • — Michelle on December 26, 2020
    • Reply
  • Absolutely delicious! We made this as a special treat for Christmas Eve and my family loved it. Very easy to make! We added a little extra old bay, corn, and some shrimp we had on hand. Yum!

    • — JT on December 25, 2020
    • Reply
  • Crab soup-I just made your recipe for crab soup-so easy and so delicious-my family loved it-thx for sharing!!!

    • — anne watson on December 14, 2020
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn, if I don’t have sherry is there something else that I can substitute it with? Or can I just omit it?

    • — Michelle on November 28, 2020
    • Reply
    • You can omit the sherry or substitute it with white wine. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on November 29, 2020
      • Reply
      • Wow, first time making crab soup. Perfect. Didn’t have the Sherry so omitted. Doubled the old bay, loved it.

        Thanks!

        • — Jeff on January 2, 2021
        • Reply
  • I made the soup last night at it was easy and turned out perfect and I live the fact that it has a little spice to it l. I actually double the recipe so I could have extra for myself

    • — Blackmash on November 26, 2020
    • Reply
  • This soup was my first attempt at ever making Crab Soup – which is one of my favorite soups. I really didn’t know what to expect because I couldn’t imagine anything so simple could really taste very good..well this soup is INSANELY amazing! I fed it to a friend who asked what restaurant I got it from! I shared the recipe with multiple friends who all made it – some putting their own spin on it, one by adding Asiago cheese – but I loved it EXACTLY as it was. Better than most Crab Soups I have gotten in restaurants! I know what I will be making every single time crab goes on sale! Thank you for this great and simple go to soup that is now definitely a favorite!

    • — Andee on November 21, 2020
    • Reply
  • I’d like to prepare ahead of time. Any suggestions for prepping or reheating?

    • — Nancy on November 2, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Nancy, I’d just reheat it on the stove until hot. It will thicken in the fridge, so you’ll likely need to add some water while reheating it. Just go a little at a time. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on November 2, 2020
      • Reply
  • Fantastic soup – rich enough for a small dinner with crusty bread. Only thing I did, because I like it so much, is added a dash of Worcestershire sauce. Excellent!!

    • — Pattylou on October 19, 2020
    • Reply
  • Hi! I love all of your recipes! I plan to make this tonight! Can I use heavy cream instead? I’m not good with half and half it always curdles on me😩

    • — Jennifer on October 15, 2020
    • Reply
    • I think that would work but it will be VERY rich. You could try it with 2 cups of heavy cream and 2 cups of milk. Please LMK how it turns out!

      • — Jenn on October 15, 2020
      • Reply
      • I did that and it’s almost perfect. I added too much salt! I tried adding some potatoes. Anything else I can do? More milk?

        • — Jennifer on October 15, 2020
        • Reply
        • Sure, a little more milk with work. Just add it a little at a time until you get to the level of saltiness you’re looking for. 🙂

          • — Jenn on October 16, 2020
          • Reply
      • The store was out of half and half so I used 2 cups heavy cream and 2 cups whole milk. It turned out great.

        • — Ashleigh on November 15, 2020
        • Reply
    • Added mushrooms. Omitted sherry but added extra lemon. Super yummy!

      • — Ashleigh on November 15, 2020
      • Reply
  • Absolutely the best cream of crab soup I’ve ever had and easy to make! Served to guests and they raved about it. I doubled the quantity of crab meat to make it extra special and added more old bay – worth every single calorie!

    • — Robin T on October 11, 2020
    • Reply
  • Do you recommend using cooking sherry or dry sherry purchased at a liquor store.

    • — Linda on August 19, 2020
    • Reply
    • I’d use the sherry from the liquor store. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on August 19, 2020
      • Reply
  • Good soup, but much better the second day.

    • — Mr. Wonderful on August 18, 2020
    • Reply
  • This is the recipe I have been looking for! The only change I made was added a little more crab meat and sherry, to taste. Was perfect, so good I immediately made a second batch. This will be a new staple for my seafood Christmas open house.

    • — Lenore on August 16, 2020
    • Reply
  • We’ve made this twice now. Absolutely delicious and so easy!

    • — Suzanne on August 1, 2020
    • Reply
  • I have canned crabmeat someone bought and gave me. I’m looking for something to do with it. Would it be reasonable in this soup, or better to mask it more in a dip, etc? Thank you! This looks amazing!

    • — Christin on April 28, 2020
    • Reply
    • I think I’d save it for a dip as it will have an impact on the taste of the soup — sorry!

      • — Jenn on April 29, 2020
      • Reply
    • Can you use heavy cream, if so should it be diluted?

      • — Janet Gorski on May 30, 2020
      • Reply
      • Yes, I’d probably use 2 cups of heavy cream and 2 cups of low-fat milk. Hope you enjoy!

        • — Jenn on June 2, 2020
        • Reply
  • Fabulous, as is every recipe of yours that I’ve tried. Doubled the recipe, and added a bag of frozen corn and a small russet potato, cut into 1/2 inch cubes. Otherwise, followed to a “T”.
    Used regular half and half – do you think it would work with non-fat H &H?

    • — Joan on February 28, 2020
    • Reply
    • Glad you liked it Joan! The soup is definitely and indulgence and while it may be tempting to substitute with fat-free half & half, the soup won’t have the right consistency unless you add more butter and flour, which of course defeats the purpose of making it lighter. Sorry!

      • — Jenn on February 28, 2020
      • Reply
  • delicious…and I had all the ingredients on hand!

    • — susan Gordon on February 9, 2020
    • Reply
  • Made this yesterday. It is delicious, quick and easy! Thank you, Jenn!

    • — Loretta on January 27, 2020
    • Reply
  • One of the best Crab soups I have made yet! The soup is rich and Delicious. Thank you for yet another true and tested recipe that is perfect for my family!

    • — Carmen on January 5, 2020
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    I love all of your recipes that I have made so far! You are such a talented chef!
    I was wondering if I could substitute the crab meat with a seafood medley that consists of bay scallops, shrimp, mussels and calamari? Do you think it would taste good and what adjustments would you suggest that I make for this substitution? Thank you and Merry Christmas to you and yours!
    Melinda

    • — Melinda on December 22, 2019
    • Reply
    • So happy you’re enjoying the recipes, Melinda! I think you could definitely swap out the crab meat for a seafood medley; no changes necessary. I’d love to know how it turns out! 🙂

      • — Jenn on December 23, 2019
      • Reply
  • Another delicious recipe! This has become my go to site. Everything I’ve made has been outstanding and I’ve followed the recipes to a T. This crab soup is no different. I doubled the recipe. I’m going to take a chance on freezing some as it’s only myself and my husband. I’m sure it will be fine. Thanks Jen!😊

    • — Amy Hustedt on November 17, 2019
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn! Do you think this soup would be good as a starter for Thanksgiving dinner? I don’t want to make a squash soup since we are having sweet potato casserole. Or is there a soup that you think would be better as a thanksgiving starter? Can this soup be made a day ahead and reheated?

    • — Melinda on November 10, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hi Melinda, While crab soup is a less traditonal choice for Thanksgiving, it will definitely work. I haven’t made it ahead, but I think that’s doable. If you wanted to consider some more traditional options, this Autumn Carrot and Sweet Potato Soup and Curried Cauliflower and Apple Soup come to mind. Hope you enjoy whatever you make!

      • — Jenn on November 11, 2019
      • Reply
      • We cannot get fresh crab but we can get fresh lobster. Would lobster work if we used smallish pieces?
        I love your recipes and you are my “go to” for recipes and hints. You’re like an old trusted friend👏👏👏

        • — HJ on July 29, 2020
        • Reply
        • Hi HJ, lobster would work nicely here. So glad you like the recipes and tips! ❤️

          • — Jenn on July 29, 2020
          • Reply
  • MY HUSBAND MADE THIS YESTERDAY!! AWESOME!!

    • — Kathy Elliott on September 19, 2019
    • Reply
  • Seriously delicious!!!! Super easy! Super quick! I made no alterations…which is unusual for me because I like to add my flair. This soup did not need it!!!! Loved it!!! And so did everyone at my dinner party!!! Wish I would have made a triple batch!!! Thank you for sharing!!!

    • — Christie on August 14, 2019
    • Reply
  • Oh, my goodness! Easy – check. Tasty – check. Husband approved – check! We have soup every Sunday for supper. This will be a frequent one in the rotation. I had bought crab for a separate purpose and ended up not using it. I didn’t want it to go to waste, so went out looking for a soup recipe. The only alteration I made was to add some corn that was leftover from dinner last night. Winner! Winner! Crab soup dinner!

    • — Jo on June 23, 2019
    • Reply
  • OMG this was SO delicious and easy to make! I sautéed a small amount of chopped onions with the butter and minced 1 clove of garlic to this recipe. I also added more Old Bay. I couldn’t believe how fast and easy it was! I did not have Sherry but will stock up on a bottle next time. Can you add white wine instead? Also, do you have any recommendations for a lower fat version?
    Thank you again for this delicious recipe!

    • — Donna M. on February 12, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hi Donna, so glad you enjoyed this! Yes, you could use white wine in place of the sherry here. And regarding making it lighter, it’s really the half & half that makes the soup indulgent. While it may be tempting to substitute the half & half with milk, the soup really won’t have the right consistency unless you add more butter and flour, which of course defeats the whole purpose of making it lighter. Sorry!

      • — Jenn on February 12, 2019
      • Reply
  • My sister and I made this soup today after my coworker found this recipe and to say that this was delicious would be an understatement. I will definitely be making this again and again!!!!

    • — Anonymous on February 9, 2019
    • Reply
  • I had some leftover crab and wanted to make a soup similar to She-crab Soup I used to get in Virginia Beach. Used this recipe and adjusted spice/water to taste as suggested. Came out perfect! I’m definitely going to use this recipe again!

  • I just made this soup for the very first time tonight, so quick and easy and very delicious! The crab and cream lovers in my family loved it! I added a touch more pepper and Old Bay, as my gang likes spicy! Otherwise I followed the recipe to a tee! Thanks Jenn, you are the best!

  • Could I substitute the sherry wine with anything non alcohol? Thanks!

    • Hi Luke, you can just omit the sherry – the soup will still be delicious. Enjoy!

  • A traditional Maryland-style brunch is an annual Thanksgiving weekend tradition in my family. This year we added the creamy Crab Soup to the menu—words can’t describe the deliciousness!!! So creamy and decadent, everyone raved about it. My son, the foodie, said it was the best he’d ever had! I doubled the recipe and followed it exactly. Over the top Jenn—you nailed it!

  • Does it matter which type of sherry you use? I think there is a cream sherry as well as dry sherry

    • Hi Tamera, I’d recommend dry sherry for this if you have it.

  • Hi Jenn. I bought a pound of crab meat (because that’s the way it came). My husband is wondering if he makes a double portion, can we freeze this soup or should we only use 1/2 the crab meat and freeze the other half of the meat. Thank you for your reply. We are loving your recipes 🙂

    • Hi Lauren, I don’t think this soup would freeze well due to all the dairy so I’d freeze half the crabmeat. Hope you enjoy it!

  • Lovely fast recipe. I’m not a big mustard fan, but I always make recipe as directed first, then make any changes. I added a tsp of tomato paste and that made the difference for me.
    Used frozen Dungeness, and my husband just arrived home from fishing trip and announced I could make it with fresh crab tomorrow!
    Thanks for another tasty dish Jenn.

  • Delicious and super simple! I doubled it because I had a pound of crabmeat, and I will be very glad of any leftovers tomorrow for lunch. I ended up adding a bit more mustard, sherry, lemon and salt to taste.

  • OMG! So easy! So delicious!

  • D. Lish. Ous. I live in Delaware, so fresh blue crab is plentiful. Cream of crab soup is also on nearly every local restaurant menu. But it is often gooey , overloaded with Old Bay, and crab pieces are sparse. This recipe is perfect; simple, no fuss, and allows the crab to be the star. Bravo, Jennifer! Hope you enjoyed your trip to Delmarva!

  • The minute I saw this recipe, I knew I had to try it. My husband was born in Maryland and grew up on the Gulf Coast, so he’s always in favor of seafood. This soup is delicious on a cold rainy day!

  • Hi! Making this today…I’m not using sherry so do I add lemon juice at that step in the recipe instead or just in individual bowls before eating? Thank you!

    • Hi Julie, It’s up to you — I’d taste it and add it only if you think it’s needed.

      • Eating it now. I added it to my bowl. Man it’s good and I don’t like crab soup.

    • Going to make this tomorrow,I have a can of crabmeat which is a pound can I use it all?

      • — Gail Grecco on March 28, 2019
      • Reply
      • Hi Gail, I’d use half the can for the recipe (or you can double it and use the whole can so it doesn’t go to waste).

        • — Jenn on March 29, 2019
        • Reply
  • HI Jenn, is that correct in the above recipe – simmer for 30 seconds? or should it be 30min? Also, does the fresh crabmeat make a big difference? vs the pasteurized version? Btw – I am ordering your cookbook for all of my friends this Christmas! Thank you for sharing all of these amazing recipes!
    maureen

    • Hi Maureen, Yes, 30 seconds is correct. It thickens up very quickly! I do always prefer fresh crabmeat if available. That said, I once made this with high-quality pasteurized crab and my husband didn’t the notice the difference. 😉

  • I can’t wait to try this tonight with friends! All of your recipes turn out amazing!! Can I substitute cooking sherry or do you think the dry sherry is much better?

    • I would definitely recommend dry sherry over cooking sherry (I’m not a big fan of cooking wines). Hope you enjoy if you try the soup!

  • Hi Jenn,

    This rich and decadent sounding soup sounds amazing! I do wish to try it gluten and dairy free. Being so dairy allergic I rarely get to enjoy these creamy Fall soups. I have had a lot of luck making substitutions like (Earth Balance and King Arthur Gluten Free Flour) with your other recipes because I think your techniques for cooking are so classic and straightforward. Do you have any non dairy suggestions for the half and half?

    • It’s great that you have found alternatives to the foods that cause you problems! I believe that some stores carry non-dairy equivalents of half and half, and that would work here. Hope you enjoy. 🙂

  • This looks delicious!
    There was a “see note” entry for the lump crab…… What was it?
    Thank you Jenn for your MANY great recipes!!!! My family and friends LOVE them!

    • Thanks for catching that, Barb! For the crabmeat, try to buy fresh if possible. Fresh crabmeat is sold in plastic containers (I get mine at the fish market or Whole Foods) while pasteurized crabmeat is sold in cans.

  • Hi Jenn, I am married to a Maryland guy. We both love crab and since we live in California I mostly use Dungeness. My Maryland guy likes it. We really don’t get fresh blue crab here. A brand called Pontrachain blue crab was ranked recently as the best tasting pasteurized blue crab. I buy it at Whole Foods. Normally I
    don’t like pasteurized crab, but I like this. It is in plastic, not a can and comes in jumbo lump, medium lump and small claw. Just thought I would pass this on to you. I use the medium lump to make a stuffing for 21 count shrimp, based on a recipe I loved at the now closed
    Bish Thompsons. Looking forward to trying your crab soup! Bonnie Wolin Laguna Beach CA

    • Good to know, Bonnie – thank you!

  • Hi Jenn!

    Thank you so much for posting this recipe. I was wondering where you purchase your crabmeat?

    • Hi Megan, I usually get it at Whole Foods. I believe the brand is Epicure and it’s the fresh one in the plastic container, not the pasteurized one in a can.

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