The South’s Most Sublime Soup

by | Jan 7, 2021 | Food & Drink, Recipes, Topsail Island

A coastal restaurant staple, rich and elegant She-Crab Soup can be easily made at home.

She-Crab Soup is commonly found on menus in coastal Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. The origin is disputed, but wherever it came from, it is much-appreciated here in the South.

The first time I ever had this soup was in Savannah, Georgia, when visiting friends. We were downtown exploring when we found a restaurant right on the river. They were known for their She-Crab Soup so I had to try it. The creamy, bisque-like texture and tasty bits of crab was dreamy and delicious.

The name She-Crab Soup implies that all the meat in the soup is from female crabs; however, that is not necessarily the case, at least not in my recipe. You can find many variations of this recipe, but in many original versions the crabs carrying roe (eggs) were used, which were obviously females. The roe is said to add more flavor so that less salt is needed.

For my recipe, I did not use only females carrying eggs — instead, I purchased already-picked crab meat and I incorporated salt into the soup. Feel free to purchase female crabs from your local fish market to incorporate crab roe. However, to me, roe is a bit too fishy, and I don’t want the extra work of cleaning crabs.

By the way, do you know how to tell if a blue crab is male or female? The females will have red tips on their claws, as if they had their nails painted red. You can also flip the crabs over and look at their apron (belly) — females will have a larger rounded apron indention while the males have a long, pointy apron indention.

This is a very elegant and delicate recipe. You can serve it as a main course or as an appetizer. Either way, it’s a great way to make your guests feel special.

Print Recipe
She-Crab Soup
A coastal restaurant staple, rich and elegant She-Crab Soup can be easily made at home.
Course Main Dish
Cuisine soup
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Cuisine soup
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. You will need an immersion blender or food processor.
  2. In a large stock pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat. Add onion, celery and thyme and cook until the onions and celery are soft.
  3. Reduce heat to medium-low, whisk in the flour and continue to cook about 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
  4. Stir in the Old Bay, nutmeg, black pepper and paprika. Once the spices become aromatic, add the sherry and increase the heat to medium, bringing it to a simmering boil. Cook about 10 minutes, constantly stirring.
  5. Add the half and half and cook for another 15 minutes. Remove the thyme spring. Puree the soup with an immersion blender (or transfer to a food processor) and blend until smooth
  6. Stir in the lemon juice, hot sauce and Worcestershire and season with salt. Gently stir in the crab meat and serve hot with oyster crackers. Garnish with parsley.

Photography by James Stefiuk

About the author

Sandi Grigg

Sandi Grigg

Growing up in a small town in the foothills of North Carolina and attending the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, I always dreamed of living on the coast. After earning my degree in Marketing/Branding I moved to Wilmington and the life my spouse and I have created for ourselves is a blessing beyond words. Together, we enjoy kayaking the Cape Fear, fishing the shores of Carolina Beach and picking up seashells and shark’s teeth. At home, I love to cook and write recipes, play with our dogs, and take on DIY home improvement endeavors. Being a part of the Carolina Marketing Company team has shown me that you really can enjoy your job. I am truly grateful to have a career I love in the city I aspired to be in. Life is grand!
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