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This rich and creamy crab soup seasoned with Old Bay is the essence of the Eastern shore.
Filled with fresh lump crab meat and seasoned with Old Bay, a spice blend that comes from my home state of Maryland, this soup tastes like a day on the Eastern shore. In fact, the recipe was scribbled down on a piece of paper for me by the chef from the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay, when we were there celebrating my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. It is unapologetically rich and indulgent. Please don’t be tempted to substitute the half & half with milk. It won’t work unless you add more butter and flour, which would defeat the whole purpose of making it lighter. I promise, it’s 100% worth it!
What you’ll need 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, Shrimp Salad, Chesapeake Corn with Tomatoes and Basil, and Peel n’ Eat Shrimp.
How to make Crab Soup
To begin, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, then add the flour.
Whisk for about 1 minute, until well blended.
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. 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.
You may also like
- French Onion Soup
- Southwestern Corn Chowder
- Easy Butternut Squash Soup
- Potato Leek Soup
- Summer Corn Soup with Fresh Herbs
This rich and creamy crab soup seasoned with Old Bay is the essence of the Eastern shore.
- 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)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons dry sherry
- ½ pound lump crabmeat, picked over to remove any shells
- Finely chopped chives, for garnish
- Lemon wedges, for serving (optional; see note)
- Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the flour and whisk for about 1 minute, until well blended.
- 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.
- Note: Old Bay seasoning is sold in the seafood department at most supermarkets. It can also be ordered online or made from scratch.
- Note: Lemon is really only necessary if not using the sherry.
- 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.
I have been a Marylander my whole life (67 years). This is delicious. The only change I made was added shallots and doubled the crabmeat. Quick and super easy to make. Thank you.
Excellent recipe! Glad to hear you are from Maryland. Can you publish an authentic red Maryland crab soup that represents a true crab soup? Your recipes are fantastic and thank you!
Glad you liked it! I will add a tomato-based crab soup to my list of recipes to potentially develop. 🙂
Native Marylander and this recipe is a good start but as is, lacks falvor and just tasted fattening and heavy and still way too thin. Next time I will start with a roux adding more flour & butter and try toncut down the fat by subbing at least half of the half and half for milk. I did sub out the salt for celery salt, added 1 1/2 tablespoons finely minced & sautéed shallot, doubled the sherry and the Old Bay- and still it was just ok- i think a hollandaise mix with lemon solids might have added the thickening and citrus tang it needed- i will be trying another recipe next time.
Try a Knorrs chicken bouillon cube and add it to your roux. Make sure to cook your roux long enough to cook the flour taste out….my roux is so thick a spoon stands up…no salt, just Old Bay or J.O….double the crab meat and let simmer…the roux is the secret and a dry sherry …happy cooking!
Can dry Marsala be substituted for the sherry? I’m looking forward to making this. Thanks!
Hi Lynn, the taste will be slightly different, but it will work. Hope you enjoy!
Wow! Amazing recipe. We loved it. So easy. So full of flavor.
YES!!!! I am a Southern Maryland Girl! I love this recipe! Your peel and eat shrimp…Authentic!!! Do you have a Maryland Style Crab recipe? The tomato based one. I make that alot but always seems to miss just something I can not put my finger on. Or, maybe just not enough of something…lol….. thoughts?
Hi Dee, So glad you like this! As of now, I don’t have a tomato-based crab soup – sorry! I’ll have to add that to my list of recipes to potentially develop. And it’s hard for me to say what your current crab soup recipe is missing without seeing the recipe. If you’d like to forward it to me, I’m happy to take a peek. 😊
Nice and easy recipe! I did add a little bit of a shallot and some cayenne pepper. It was delicious! Thank you for a great recipe!
Hi Jenn. I was recently gifted a quality brand of canned super lump crab meat. Would it be appropriate for this recipe? At 74, I’m becoming a much better cook using your amazing recipes!
Sure, Marcia, So glad you’re enjoying the recipes! And the crabmeat would work nicely in the soup. 🙂
This soup is the absolute best crab soup and so easy! Love it!
This was so so good! I read the reviews and added 2 tbsp of Worcestershire sauce along with 1tbsp (not tsp) of Dijon mustard and it was delicious. Next time I will definitely be serving it in a sourdough bread bowl or pairing it with some simply oyster crackers. Lemon was a game changer also. My fiancé and I ate the entire pot of soup in one sitting.
Jen, you’re an amazing cook! Can’t wait to try the rest of your recipes.
This was a lovely soup. I liked the sherry flavor. It thickened up nicely even using gluten free flour. (KAF cup for cup)
I would love to make this soup buy can’t eat wheat flour. What would you substitute? Corn starch, tapioca starch, . . . and how much?
Hi Maggie, I’d go with a gluten-free flour here. Hope you enjoy the soup!
It was delicious, but I made a couple of modifications. I thought that it was a bit plain and doubled the mustard and added a dash of Worcestershire sauce. I’ll definitely make this again.
I’ve made this several times in the past and it’s so delicious! Can fresh corn be added?
This is the best crab soup of all time! I love all of your recipes but as a Maryland girl, born and bred, I’m very picky about crab. So delicious!
I had leek that needed to be used.
Sauted in the butter and follow the recipe. Absolutely the best.
All the recipes I’ve used from your site are so so good
How much of this (if any) can be made in advance? I love this soup and want to make it for company but I’m awful at cooking/entertaining at the same time.
Hi Alice, Glad you like it! I think you can make it completely ahead. I’d reheat it on the stove when you’re ready to serve. It will thicken in the fridge, so you’ll likely need to add some water or milk while reheating it. Just go a little at a time. Hope everyone enjoys!
What would happen if you substituted 4 cups of whole milk for the 4 cups of Half n Half?
Hi Cassie, I really recommend sticking with the 1/2 and 1/2 here.
I found it to be lacking flavor.
Absolutely delicious! Our sons are home from college and requested cream of crab soup. So for Sunday supper I made the crab soup and it was a huge hit. Excellent!
This recipe is magnificent. Simplicity at it finest.
We have a second home at the beach. Typically we go to one of our favorite restaurants for their cream of crab soup and a ceaser salad. We spend $22 on just these two items. I decided to make my own soup and salad to save some $$. Ingredients cost me about $30 ( I had a few things. Fresh crab was most costly) followed recipe exactly. It was amazing! And just as good as a $13 bowl of soup at the restaurant! And we got four servings! That’s two meals ! So easy and now I will be making this every time we get to the beach house. Sorry ex-favorite restaurant…….
This was so delicious and easy! I made a couple small changes to make it low carb by substituting 2 cups of whipping cream for 2 of the 4 cups of half and half and cut the flour to 1/2 Tbsp. I added a pinch of granulated garlic and omitted the salt and it was perfect – so creamy and yummy! I’ve never used fresh crab before and I had company while making this so I forgot to pick over the crab for shells……I won’t forget next time : ) Thank you for a wonderful recipe!
I made this tonight and it was delicious!! After I bought the ingredients, I was worried that there are no onions or celery. It is a rich, delicious soup. The Old Bay makes it! Thank you!
It was great. Made in minutes. Did use canned crab but still great. I want to try with clams and cooked potatoes. Great base. I ate for breakfast
Hi Jenn! Do you have any salad suggestions that would pair well with this recipe? I just got your new cook book, and I look forward to making this soup for dinner this week.
Hi Jessica, thanks for your support with the cookbook! This soup would pair nicely with this baby kale salad or this arugula salad. Hope you enjoy the soup!
Such an easy and quick recipe that tastes great. Very pleased. Thank you.
This looks wonderful. We have crab pots off of our dock so we get loads of fresh crab and this looks like a great way to use some of the meat. My question is that I only have cream sherry. Can that be used in place of the dry sherry. Don’t want to mess up such a great recipe by using the wrong stuff. Thanks
Hi Mafajous, Unfortunately cream sherry cannot be substituted here — it’s too sweet. Sorry!
I used cream sherry and it turned out wonderful! I use cream sherry in another recipe of mine, seafood chowder.
This is not only a great tasting recipe, it is quick and easy! Rarely can you find a recipe that states that the prep is 5 minutes and actually only takes 5 minutes! The only change I made – I didn’t have sherry wine so I used white cooking wine and added a little apple cider vinegar. (I would have use sherry if I had it). Delicious soup!
never use white cooking wine, bad stuff…an inexpensive sherry is the way to go
This is a wonderful recipe for a lovely soup that allows the taste of the crab to be the star. Smooth, simple and flavorful like you would get in a high-end restaurant near the Chesapeake Bay. Don’t change anything on this recipe! The first time I made it, I only had 2 cups of the half and half (substituted milk for the rest) and didn’t have sherry on hand. It truly needs the 4 cups of half and half for a more luxurious soup and the sherry really enhances the flavor. I tried a couple of substitutions for the sherry and none compared to the dry sherry. It is a must. It is a tradition for this soup. Jenn, I am so happy that I discovered you. Thank you!!!
Such a wonderful dish! You’re the best, Jenn!
Seriously Jenn? How do you do it? All of your recipes are 5 star, and this one is no exception! It is FAB! Not only easy to make, but absolutely delicious. I made dungeness crab (my favorite being from San Francisco) sandwiches and had a bunch of crab left over. I made this soup with everything I already had on hand, except for the half n half, and it was better than the sandwiches! Ina used to be my go-to for new recipes, but I am thinking now it is you. Thank you for all of your work in perfecting your wonderful recipes.
This recipe tastes exactly like what we get in good restaurants here in MD. Thank you!
I used a pound of imported lump as it’s too early for local. I seasoned it with some old bay and a pinch of sugar to make up for it not being fresh and local. Yum!
Just made your she crab soup and it’s AWESOME. First time eating it was in Myrtle Beach and haven’t find anything come close to it until now. Family loves it and will be making again and again. Thanks so much for sharing. Delicious!!!
Delicious! Great recipe! Thanks!
Just made it. Delicious! I live in Maryland where crab soup is king. This beats out many of the seafood spots I go to.
Made this for the first time today. It is so delicious. It tastes just like the soup I get at my favorite restaurant in Annapolis, MD! I definitely will be making this again and again.
May I ask what restaurant in Annapolis has your favorite crab soup? We are visiting there next week. Thanks! – Anne
easy, and quick plus delicious! I did not have sherry, dijon mustard or half and half. I used whole milk straight from the cow, had oodles of cream, a dash of regular mustard, and sprinkled some lemon juice in the finished soup. It turned out lovely, better than any restaurant soup I have tried. Thanks so much for the recipe. I think I will keep my version but I would not have attempted it without your recipe! If you can find a good local source of farm fresh milk, I suggest you try it!
ADORE your recipes. In this crab soup, what ingredient is 4 cups half and half?
Hi Michele, So glad you like the recipes! Do you live in the UK? If so, I believe 1/2 & 1/2 is referred to as single or half cream.
Hi Jenn, Thanks for sharing this recipe, I made this soup and it was delicious and liked by all. I only made 2 small changes; because I did not have any cream at hand I substituted 1% milk and because I had purchased crab in a double pack, I used one pouch, and it weighs in at 12oz (or 3/4 LB). Soup texture came out great and lots of crab flavor. My son took it to work next day and reheated it and it was great, he wants me to make it again. Oh and for the sherry i used shaoxing cooking wine, which is used in making stir fry sauces and i think is very much like a dry sherry.
All I can say is WOW! I have only made oyster stew/soup before but looked for a recipe. I could not have asked for anything better. Finished my first bowl and went back for another. Thanks from an dawg in Athens, GA!
I doubled the recipe and served with a delicious homemade garlic bread for a lunch with my parents. It was amazing! Doubling the recipe gave us plenty for our lunch for 4 plus leftovers to look forward to for dinner the next day. I used Harvey’s Bristol Cream Sherry. This is now my go-to seafood soup, for sure.
Question: Would this soup freeze well?
Hi Annmarie, So glad you all enjoyed this! Due to all the dairy it contains, unfortunately, it won’t freeze well — sorry!
We love it!!!! Creamy and not too heavy. Delicious!
It was cold today so I thought I’d try this recipe for my family. Unbelievable and so simple. The sherry made all the difference too. This is a keeper! Chef Jenn does it again.
I make crab soup from this recipe at least once per month. It is frequently requested and most definitely a crowd favorite! The first time I tried it I did not let it thicken completely, so I then made it with heavy cream instead of half and half. It was overwhelmingly rich and more like a crab dip rather than a crab soup. Ha! Stuck to Jenn’s recipe and it will be perfect. I think the Old Bay seasoning and the dry sherry are what set this soup above all others I have tried.