Crab Soup

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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 with family 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 and creamy and seasoned with Old Bay. The sherry at the end is optional, but I love the depth of flavor it adds, and also how it cuts through the richness of the cream.

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, I recommend using 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 a bunch of 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 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning, plus more for serving (see note)
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 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, 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

  • 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
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  • 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
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  • 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!

    • — Mae Mae on January 25, 2019
    • Reply
  • 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!

    • — Kathy Cabral on January 17, 2019
    • Reply
  • Could I substitute the sherry wine with anything non alcohol? Thanks!

    • — Luke on November 29, 2018
    • Reply
    • Hi Luke, you can just omit the sherry – the soup will still be delicious. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on November 30, 2018
      • Reply
      • Thanks!!

        • — Luke on December 6, 2018
        • Reply
  • 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!

    • — Sandy Krems on November 25, 2018
    • Reply
  • Does it matter which type of sherry you use? I think there is a cream sherry as well as dry sherry

    • — Tamera on October 25, 2018
    • Reply
    • Hi Tamera, I’d recommend dry sherry for this if you have it.

      • — Jenn on October 25, 2018
      • Reply
  • 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 🙂

    • — Lauren Russ on October 23, 2018
    • Reply
    • 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!

      • — Jenn on October 23, 2018
      • Reply
  • 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.

    • — Karen on October 19, 2018
    • Reply
  • 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.

    • — Natalie B on October 17, 2018
    • Reply
  • OMG! So easy! So delicious!

    • — Tom on October 17, 2018
    • Reply
  • 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!

    • — Laura Deckmann on October 16, 2018
    • Reply
  • 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!

    • — Rachel Hartman on October 15, 2018
    • Reply
  • 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!

    • — Julie on October 15, 2018
    • Reply
    • Hi Julie, It’s up to you — I’d taste it and add it only if you think it’s needed.

      • — Jenn on October 15, 2018
      • Reply
      • Eating it now. I added it to my bowl. Man it’s good and I don’t like crab soup.

        • — Julie on October 15, 2018
        • Reply
    • 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

    • — maureen (mo) on October 12, 2018
    • Reply
    • 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. 😉

      • — Jenn on October 14, 2018
      • Reply
  • 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?

    • — Sherri Mayer on October 12, 2018
    • Reply
    • 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!

      • — Jenn on October 12, 2018
      • Reply
  • 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?

    • — Lisa H. on October 12, 2018
    • Reply
    • 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. 🙂

      • — Jenn on October 12, 2018
      • Reply
  • 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!

    • — Barb on October 11, 2018
    • Reply
    • 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.

      • — Jenn on October 12, 2018
      • Reply
  • 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

    • — Bonnie Wolin on October 11, 2018
    • Reply
    • Good to know, Bonnie – thank you!

      • — Jenn on October 12, 2018
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn!

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

    • — Megan on October 11, 2018
    • Reply
    • 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.

      • — Jenn on October 11, 2018
      • Reply

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