She-Crab Soup

Once upon a time, I lived in Virginia Beach. Lovely place. Best part? You could find she-crab soup on most restaurant menus. This soup is my liquid soul mate. It’s rich and creamy, a bit of boozy sweetness from sherry, and chock-full of crab flavor. Traditionally, it’s served with roe as a garnish (roe is only found in the females, hence the “she” part).

I haven’t had this soup since leaving VA, and it’s continued to haunt my dreams. Well, I was grocery shopping the other day and crab leg clusters were on sale, and I thought it was finally time to try and recreate it. I live in land-locked Colorado, so while we have mountains abound, there isn’t much fresh seafood. So this is my interpretation of she-crab soup, based on what I had available at a reasonable price. I’ve gotta say, I was deliriously happy with the results. Baby G and the Hubs both licked their bowls clean. The red bell pepper isn’t traditional, but I like the piquant sweetness they add, as well as a little boost of veggie power. This would also usually be made with half and half or heavy cream, but I used whole milk and think that it was plenty rich enough.

While doing research, I looked at a lot of recipes that used fish stock, and I’ve got to say, I think that is a mistake. Crab and fish do not taste the same. It may seem like a lot of work to make your own crab stock, but I think it’s totally worth the extra step!

Delicious, creamy, crabby soup!

She-Crab Soup

Serves 4


  • 1 lb crab leg clusters
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 medium yellow onion, 1/4 inch dice
  • 1 red bell pepper, 1/4 inch dice
  • Bay leaf
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 2 cups crab stock (recipe follows)
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • zest of 1 lemon, plus juice to taste (2-3 tsp)
  • lemon wedges for serving


  1. Remove meat from crab legs, reserve meat, and use shells for stock.
  2. Melt butter in a dutch oven over medium heat.
  3. Add onion, bell pepper, and bay leaf, season with salt, and sweat until translucent, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add garlic, and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  5. Add flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  6. Stir in crab stock, whisking to prevent lumps.
  7. Stir in milk, whisking to prevent lumps.
  8. Bring to a bare simmer, and let cook for 10 minutes.
  9. Reduce heat to low, stir in lemon zest and juice.
  10. Taste and adjust with more salt or lemon juice if necessary. Remove bay leaf.
  11. Stir in crab meat, and serve. (You can reserve a bit of crab meat and lemon zest for garnish; chives would also be lovely.)

Crab Stock


  • Reserved crab shells
  • 1 yellow onion, large dice
  • 2 carrots, large dice
  • 2 celery stalks, large dice
  • water


  1. Combine crab shells, onion, carrot, and celery in a pot.
  2. Add enough water to cover ingredients by an inch or so.
  3. Place pot on stove, and bring to simmer.
  4. Simmer gently (don’t boil) for 30 minutes.
  5. Strain stock, and discard solids. (It’s best to strain a second time, through cheesecloth, in order to catch any small shell particles.)

One comment

  1. This sounds way too industrious for this unimaginative, uninspired kitchen slug, BUT I’d love to try yours sometime!???

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