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Chunks of delicious lump crab meat in a rich and spicy tomato broth (thanks to some Old Bay seasoning) loaded with lots of veggies makes this Maryland Crab Soup perfect with some crusty bread and just as good on a cold day as it is during the summer with fresh vegetables from the garden! Leftovers are even better the next day and it freezes well too!
There is something supremely comforting about tucking in to a bowl of soup that is packed with vegetables and seafood in a flavorful broth. Be sure to also check out our San Francisco Cioppino Seafood Stew for a taste of the other side of the country, or this New England Fish Chowder for a completely different flavor profile.
Old Bay Crab Soup
I know we are currently creeping out of winter “soup” weather and inching towards Spring and Summer, but this particular soup recipe bridges the gap and crosses boundaries as being a soup that can be enjoyed year round. In the winter, it’s warm and comforting, making use of frozen veggies. But in the summer, you can use all the fresh produce you can find!
I first heard about Maryland crab soup in a Food Network article when I was researching recipes that Maryland is well-known for as part of my American Eats series where I’m making the most popular foods from each state, one at a time.
Doing the research is one of my favorite parts of this series because I learn about all sorts of interesting foods that mostly only locals known about it. Like lemon sticks, which I didn’t end up making but are supposed to be a Baltimore tradition at the annual FlowerMart where you stick a soft peppermint stick in half a lemon and use it like a straw to suck up the lemon juice. I am still immensely curious about them and it’s gone on my “must revisit” list for in the future!
This crab soup, on the other hand, was a big hit at our dinner table. The spicy, savory broth compliments the crab meat really well. And each bite is chock-full of delicious and nutritious veggies. It’s a really healthy soup and something you definitely feel good about eating.
Maryland Crab Soup Ingredients
- Crab meat: You want fresh, frozen, or pasteurized lump crab meat, not the canned crab meat you find in the tuna aisle. Look for fresh crab in the seafood section or ask at the meat counter if you have trouble locating it.
- Canned whole peeled tomatoes: You will use both the tomatoes and the juice they are packed in. I like to tear up the tomatoes a bit as I add them to the soup for a rustic, chunky texture.
- Celery, carrots, and onions: These three are classic soup veggies that really add depth of flavor to the broth.
- Potatoes: You can use either russet potatoes or yukon gold potatoes in this soup. Peel, then cube the potatoes into bite-size pieces. Don’t go overboard on the potato or it can overwhelm the rest of the ingredients. One medium to large russet potato really is plenty, although if they are on the smaller side you could do two.
- Fresh or frozen corn: If it’s summertime and you have fresh sweet corn from the farmer’s market, by all means use that! You will need 2 ears worth of kernels sliced off the cob. But this recipe works just as well with frozen corn kernels.
- Peas and lima beans: I don’t always have bags of lima beans in the freezer but every Maryland Crab Soup recipe I looked at called for them. They really are delicious and have a great texture in the soup, along with the peas, which we always have in the freezer.
- Old Bay seasoning: This spice blend is a staple in many pantries and adds fantastic flavor and heat. It was invented in Baltimore by a German immigrant in the early 1900’s. It includes spices like celery salt, black pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, paprika, mustard, and ginger, among others.
- Beef broth and water: The combination of broth and water adds depth without overpowering the crab flavor, although you could use all water if you prefer.
- Mustard: Some recipes call for dry mustard powder, but I like the ease and punch of some regular yellow mustard instead.
- Worcestershire sauce: This ingredient adds a wonderful umami element and lots of flavor to the broth.
- Salt & pepper: Always important for making sure things don’t taste bland.
How to Make Crab Soup
I debated sauteeing the carrots, celery, and onions in a little olive oil first before adding the remaining ingredients, but ultimately skipped it after looking at a number of versions of this soup. Instead, we keep things really simple here by pretty much dumping everything in the soup pot and letting it simmer to develop the flavors.
- Add almost everything except the crab: In a large dutch oven or heavy duty pot, combine the carrots, potato, onion, celery, green beans, corn, lime beans, peas, Worcestershire sauce, Old Bay seasoning and mustard. Add the canned tomatoes, tearing up the tomatoes into chunks, along with the tomato juice from the can.
- Simmer: Heat over medium-high heat until the soup comes to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and let it simmer away, partially covered for 20 minutes.
- Add the crab and simmer a little longer: Once the veggies have started to soften in the broth, season with salt and pepper and add the crab meat to the pot. Simmer for another 15 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until everything is hot, the vegetables are tender, and the flavors have combined to create a wonderful, rich broth.
How long will leftovers keep in the fridge?
Any leftover soup will last around 5 days in the fridge and still be good. Reheat leftovers on the stove until hot.
Can you freeze Maryland Crab Soup?
You sure can! This soup freezes well for up to 3 months. Let it cool to room temperature, then transfer it to a freezer-safe container before transferring to the freezer. To serve, thaw the soup overnight in the freezer, then reheat in a pot on the stove over medium heat until hot all the way through.
What goes well with crab soup?
Like most soups, especially tomato based ones, this Maryland crab soup pairs really well with some kind of bread or salad. The spicy kick of the Old Bay seasoning means this soup is especially good with something on the sweet side.
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Maryland Crab Soup
- 3 carrots peeled and chopped
- 1-2 medium potatoes peeled and cubed
- 1 medium yellow onion chopped
- 1-2 celery stalks chopped
- 1/2 pound green beans trimmed into 1" pieces
- 1 cup frozen yellow corn
- 1 cup frozen lima beans
- 1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas
- 4 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 Tablespoons Old Bay seasoning
- 1 Tablespoon yellow mustard
- 28 ounces whole peeled tomatoes
- 3 cups beef broth
- 3 cups water
- 1 lb. jumbo lump crabmeat
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Combine carrots, potato, onion, celery, green beans, corn, lime beans, peas, Worcestershire sauce, Old Bay seasoning and mustard in a large heavy bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add the canned tomatoes, tearing up the tomatoes into chunks, along with the tomato juice from the can, beef broth, and water.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and let the soup simmer for 20 minutes. Add the crabmeat and season with salt and pepper. Simmer for another 15 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. The flavors will meld the longer the soup simmers, but it is ready to eat as soon as the potatoes and other vegetables are tender.
- Freezing: Let the soup cool to room temperature, then transfer to a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge, then warm on the stove until heated through.
Recipe adapted from Saveur.
More States I Have Visited in my American Eats Series
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