She Crab Soup, the signature dish of the Lowcountry. More specifically, Charleston. I decided to make this to use up my leftover crab meat from my Mac & Cheese Recipe. I questioned what made the difference between a She Crab Soup and just a regular crab chowder. So, I did some research.
According to the culinary historian John Martin Taylor, Scottish settlers brought a crab and rice soup recipe to the Carolinas in the 1700’s. What differentiates a crab soup from a She Crab Soup is the addition of crab roe (eggs). This addition came from a wealthy diner (supposedly William Howard Taft and R. Goodwyn Rhett) who asked for the chef to “dress up” their boring crab soup. The chef added the roe to give the soup its slightly orange hue and extra flavor. As interesting as that is, I’m a little bummed to find out that most of the She Crab Soup I’ve had before probably wasn’t authentic. And neither is this one!
Because any type of roe is typically hard to find, I discovered (courtesy of Google) that crumbled hard boiled egg yolks can be used instead. Weird, I know. I only used a little bit, and it seemed to be fine. Anyways, here’s my take on She Crab Soup.
From left to right: Jumbo Lump Crabmeat(1/2 pound), heavy cream, Worcestershire Sauce, Shallot (or onion is fine), Parsley (fresh is better if you have it), Lemon Zest, Ground Mace, Cayenne Pepper, 1/2 stick of butter, Hard-boiled Egg Yolk(optional).
Ingredients not pictured: Lawry’s Salt, Paprika, All-Purpose Flour, Shrimp Stock.
Start with a large pot. Melt a half stick of salted butter, once that is hot add the finely diced shallot or onion. I then added about 1/4 cup of flour to make a roux (pictured below).
You want to cook it enough so that you cook out the floury taste, but make sure you don’t burn it. Once it’s cooked, I added a homemade shrimp stock. (You can use any kind of stock, I would recommend a crab, shrimp, or fish stock. If you want to do a homemade one, I used a combination of this recipe and this recipe.) I added it in one ladle at a time, whisking the roux into the stock as I went. Throughout the whole process, I used about five and a half ladles of shrimp stock. Then, I added whole milk and heavy cream until I reached the consistency and flavor that I wanted. If you like a thicker soup, use more flour and less milk/stock. If you like it thinner, use less flour and more milk/stock. Make sure you are tasting along the way.
Once I had my soup to the consistency I wanted, I added in my crab and mixed it in. I then added, in no particular order, a splash of Worcestershire Sauce, the zest of an entire lemon, Mace and Cayenne and Lawry’s and Paprika. Add as much or as little of each of these as you like. For example, I am not fond of spicy food, so I only added a small amount of Cayenne Pepper. I added extra of the other seasonings to help with the red/orange color and to develop the flavor. Add them until you get a flavor that you like.
When your soup is where you want it, add the parsley and the egg yolk if you want to. Here is the end product!
Best of luck,