10 March 2007


Growing up in Baltimore, you get to know crab in pretty much all of its forms. From the most intimite act of picking meat at a crab feast, the superlative crab cake, the elegance of the soft-shelled crab, and any crab dip, salad or sandwich in between. Yet despite all those years spent minutes from the Chesapeake Bay, I had never met Maryland crab soup.

Obviously, Maryland crab soup must have been around, but it seems we were never introduced. She’s a bit of a wallflower, you see. She lurked, unnoticed, in the corners of menus and scrawled on local tavern chalkboards. I suppose I never ordered her because I assumed she was chock full of cream like a rich bisque, and I never paid attention when anyone else did. However, she and I are quickly becoming fast friends, if our recent lunch dates are any indication.

It turns out this soup has a nice tomato and vegetable base which carries gorgeous lump crab meat. But don’t let the plain-jane exterior fool you, for there’s a little trick up her sleeve, in the form of a tiny pinch of Old Bay seasoning. Just enough to give the soup a bit of interest, and to keep it firmly rooted in the region, along with the wonderful corn and lima beans that come from Maryland’s Eastern shore. And not that I want to call her easy, at least not in a pejorative sense, but she’s only a quick simmer away from your own table.

Maryland Crab Soup
I know, I know, crab meat costs a fortune, but you only live once. You can toss in whatever vegetables you like, such as potatoes, peas, cabbage, or green beans, and adjust the cooking time as necessary. Some people like a little dash of hot sauce too.

1 tbl butter
1-2 ribs of celery, sliced
1 cup carrots, peeled and diced
1 (28 oz) can of tomatoes, chopped if whole
2 cups fish stock or combination clam juice and water
1 cup baby lima beans, thawed if frozen
1 cup sweet white corn, thawed if frozen
1 tsp salt
1 tbl Old Bay (or to taste)
1 lb jumbo lump crab meat

1. Melt the butter in a large heavy saucepan. Add the celery and carrots and cook over medium heat until softened. Add the tomatoes, stock, lima beans, corn, salt, and Old Bay and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until the ingredients are softened and combined.
2. Stir in the crabmeat, cover and simmer another 10 minutes. Serve.

About 100 calories per cup.

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