How to Make Maryland Crab Soup

Today we’re excited to have our first post from Reston writer and food blogger Mark Hoover, who runs the website Peripheral Chew. He gives us step-by-step instructions to make Maryland Crab Soup, which looks like a delicious way to celebrate these final summer days.

by Mark Hoover

I make Maryland-style crab soup about three times a year: once to kick off the summer, once near summer’s end, and once during the frigid months to remind myself of days that are long and hot.

One of the reasons I like the soup so much is because it’s way easy to make; it’s the sort of thing you can throw together after work and have dinner ready in an hour/hour and a half. This recipe yields a soup that’s almost more of a glorified vegetable stew, but the crab really bumps it up into something superior.

First off, what you’ll need (exact amounts at the bottom of this post):


You can’t really tell from the photo, but those mini tubs of crab (which I picked up at the Harris Teeter in the Spectrum Center, by the way) come from different parts of the crab. The yellow tub is claw meat; the blue tub, “special” meat (meat from the crab’s underbelly).

Now, those two tubbies ran me around $20. If you want to shovel out the cash for some jumbo lump crab meat, then by all means, do it. But the claw/special combination is excellent.

Another note: I used unsalted stock. This is important, at least to me, because I like to add a ton of Old Bay seasoning. If the stock were salty, then adding heaps of Old Bay and reducing the soup would ultimately ruin it. So, keep that in mind.

Time for the prep work, which took me about 15 minutes:

First up, peel your carrots and potatoes. Then chop ’em up. The onion and celery, too.

Everything’s chopped. I used three carrots, two celery stalks, two potatoes, four cloves of garlic, and half of that giant yellow onion you see in the “ingredients” photo. Now, it doesn’t matter how big or small you chop the different veggies; what does matter, though, is making sure you cut them to be the same size-they will cook evenly that way.

And with that, prep is done. Time for cooking:

On medium-high heat, throw the onion, carrots, and celery (the mirepoix, for all you chefs) in with a little butter or oil. I used butter, as you can see above on the right. I also added a tablespoon of Old Bay seasoning to help “sweat” the veggies. What you’re doing here is building your soup base.

After about five or six minutes, add the garlic, and cook for another minute or so (so you don’t burn it). After that, it’s time to add essentially everything else, minus the crab. That means the potatoes, frozen veggies, Worchestershire sauce, mustard, crushed tomatoes, extra Old Bay, and in my case, a teaspoon of cayenne pepper.

A couple of boring “stock” photos for you. Let me reiterate that I’m using unsalted stock so that I can control the salt content (read: shamelessly add Old Bay tablespoon after tablespoon).

At this point, bring the temp up to a simmer and let it go for about an hour, depending on the size of your potatoes. When they’re done, you’re (almost) done. That’s when you add the crab:


The crab is precooked, so all you need to do is warm it up in your soup. Once it’s warm, you’re ready to eat (after tasting for seasoning, of course)

I eat this soup as a whole meal; it’s got protein from the crab, vitamins from the veggies, and starch from the potatoes. Probably not a bad call to eat with some toasted bread, but I don’t do that; that way, I can eat more soup.

If you want to go the extra mile, try making some homemade crab stock from some leftover crabs you acquired from a recent crab feast. But if you don’t have any extra crabs, this particular recipe won’t let you down.

My ingredients below:

  • 1 tub crab claw meat
  • 1 tub special crab meat
  • 1 32oz. container of unsalted chicken stock
  • 2 potatoes
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 large onion (or a medium size onion)
  • 3 carrots
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1 26oz. container of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp. Worchestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. mustard (any kind)
  • 1/2 pkg 16oz. sweet kernel corn
  • 1/2 pkg 16oz. lima beans
  • 4 tbsp. Old Bay seasoning
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper

I should really stress that these ingredients are to taste. If you don’t like something, don’t add it. If you want more carrots, throw ’em in there. This is a simple, one-pot recipe, so no need to over-complicate it with exact measures. Also, this recipe is a lot like chili in that it’s better the next day, just so you know. Have fun, enjoy the aromas, and happy eating!


Photo credit: Mark Hoover

If you’d like to read more of Mark’s recipes and his reviews of DC-area restaurants, be sure to follow his food blog: Peripheral Chew. You can also find him on Instagram: @peripheralchew.

Do you have a great recipe to share? Or would you like to write a guest post about another topic of your interest? We’d love to hear your ideas! Please contact us at [email protected]. We’ll be happy to hear from you.

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