This hybrid version of Maryland’s state crustacean soup benefits not only from the natural crab sweetness but also an historic local seasoning standard.
Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay region are nationally known for their crab industry, and their soups are generally split between a rich broth-based version full of vegetables and a heavier, creamy chowder with potatoes. This recipe exists in the middle with aspects of both, and it is not uncommon for diners to combine the two (known to the locals as “yin yang”).
Note that aside from the standard salt and pepper, the only seasoning used in this version is Old Bay. Named after an old steamer line out of the Chesapeake, Old Bay is a Baltimore-original commercial blend of dried herbs and spices that has become not only iconic in its tin can but almost universal in its use in flavoring many seafood dishes throughout the East Coast and beyond.
Fresh local blue crab (Callinectes sapidus) is always preferred but sometimes difficult to source inland, if not prohibitively expensive, so canned or packaged lump meat is adequate. It should come pre-cooked and pasteurized, so little more than a few minutes are needed to warm up its characteristic sweet flesh.
Finish off this chowdery bowl with a sprinkle of parsley and a lemon wedge. Serve with authentic Southern biscuits (not just for breakfast any more).
Maryland Crab Soup
1 lb lump crab meat
1 stalk of celery
½ yellow onion
4 T butter
½ c flour
½ T Old Bay
4 c seafood stock
1 russet potato
14.5 oz can of tomatoes (diced)
½ c corn kernels (frozen)
½ c green peas (frozen)
½ c green beans (frozen)
½ c half-and-half
1 Dice the celery, carrot and onion and sauté in the butter until soft but not browned, about 5 min. Stir in the flour and Old Bay.
2 Work in the stock, stirring to form a roux. Peel and dice the potato and add along with the tomatoes. Simmer, covered, for 20 min or until the potato is tender.
3 Add the corn, peas and green beans and heat until warmed through, about 5 min.
4 Add the crab and dairy, and heat gently until warmed through, another 2-3 min. Season to taste.