When you reach crab heaven—which to me is a crab house in Maryland—you will have a choice of appetizers before the main event (crabs!) is served. Ubiquitous on the menus of these places is a tomato-ey Maryland Crab Soup—that by all rights should be a great soup. It’s usually not. It usually tastes like canned Campbell’s Vegetable Soup with a microscopic portion of crab meat tossed in. The following version—inauthentic, in that it’s better than any soup I’ve ever tasted in a crab house—puts this soup on the plateau it deserves. I’ve preserved the tomato-ey vegetable soup quality—but the mega-dose of good crab meat makes everything better. I advise you to hold the soup off the heat for 10 minutes after adding the crab so that the crab flavors can permeate the rest of the soup, without the lump crab meat breaking down.
Makes 4-6 soup servings
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup diced celery (1/4″ dice)
1/2 cup diced carrots (1/4″ dice)
1/2 cup baby lima beans, frozen
2 1/2 cups crushed tomatoes in purée
3 2/3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 cup diced green beans (1/4″ dice)
1/2 cup fresh corn niblets (from about 2 ears of corn)
2 bay leaves
4 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
1/2 cup peas, frozen
1 lb. lump crab meat, picked over
2 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons chopped parsley, for garnish
1. Melt the butter in a large stockpot over medium-low heat. Add the onions, celery and carrots. Cook until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir now and then to prevent sticking. Avoid coloration.
2. Meanwhile, rinse the lima beans under water in a small strainer for 10 seconds. Drain. Add the lima beans, tomatoes, stock, green beans, corn, bay leaves, and Old Bay seasoning to the onion mixture and bring to a simmer. Gently simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 35-40 minutes.
3. Rinse the peas under water in a small strainer for 10 seconds. Add the peas, the crab, and the Worcestershire sauce to the soup and cook very gently until warmed through, about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and let sit for 10 minutes. Reheat gently, season to taste and serve. Garnish with chopped parsley.
Photo courtesy of BigStock