If you’ve been to South Carolina lately, you probably know all about the Lowcountry classic stew called she-crab soup. It’s a specialty from Charleston and is an easy, versatile soup dish. Also known as she-crab bisque, this delicious recipe is slightly sweet with a briny crab flavor—similar to that of clam chowder. As with chowder, the texture is creamy and full of texture.
The soup started out as a rice and crab bisque in the 1700s, which was popular among Scottish settlers. The dish later on changed into the recipe as it is now in the early 1900s. You’ll need crab meat, a few fresh ingredients, and a big appetite for this best she-crab soup recipe.
She-crab soup is so called because it’s made with she-crabs. She-crabs are simply female crabs. During springtime, they carry roe (or crab eggs), adds exceptional flavor to a recipe like this. Because male crabs don’t carry roe, they’re often not that flavorful.
A bisque is a soup made with shellfish and is usually enriched with cream. This she-crab soup is similar to a crab bisque, and is made with cream and sherry.
Crab meat – look for fresh she-crab lump meat.
Vegetables – onions and celery add flavor and texture.
Butter and flour – used to make a roux that will thicken the sauces.
Seasoning – a simple blend of salt and white pepper is all that’s needed.
Hot sauce and sherry – add spice and a bit of zing.
Cream and milk – add richness to the dish.
Start by cooking the onions and celery. Do this by melting the butter and sautéing them for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds until fragrant, taking care that it doesn’t burn, otherwise the dish will be bitter.
Season to taste before adding the flour. Add the remaining ingredients and cook, while stirring, for about 10 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and add the sherry. Season to taste.
Yes, you can! Follow the recipe, but omit the crab. Store the soup and the crab separately in the fridge and on the day of serving, reheat the soup on the stove. Add the crab and simmer for a few minutes.
If you cannot find she-crabs, use plain crab meat and add ½ cup crab roe.
To make this gluten-free, you can use rice flour or a gluten-free flour blend.
If you don’t have sherry, use dry white wine as a substitute.
Serve with freshly baked French bread and an extra dash of sherry.
Leftovers can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 2 days. You can also freeze it. Simply transfer the cooled soup to an airtight container or Ziploc bag and freeze for up to 3 months. Allow to thaw overnight in the fridge before heating in the microwave.
Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat.
Add the onion and celery and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds until fragrant.
Add the salt and pepper.
Now add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the flour is fully incorporated.
Add ¼ cup of the chicken broth and cook, scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the rest of the chicken broth, whole milk, heavy cream, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and zest.
Now add the lemon zest and crab meat and stir through.
Bring to a simmer and cook until thickened, making sure to stir every once in a while. This will take about 10 minutes.
Remove the pot from the heat and add the sherry. Season to taste.
Remember to pick through the crab meat, removing any visible cartilage or shell pieces.