Maryland is all about crabs!
I mean Maryland is for crabs, am I right?
My family moved from the Midwest to Maryland when I was a child and this was our first introduction to blue crabs. Not only blue crabs but really any kinda crab or oyster or clam. There was just not a whole lot of seafood being served in the Midwest as one might guess given the geography.
In the early 80’s in Maryland there were lots of crabs and loads of other types of shellfish to be had, especially crabs – I’m talking bushels and bushels.
Hosts would steam the crabs in huge pots in their own homes and guests would sit around picnic tables in the yard and “pick” crabs. We learned how to crack open crab shells with our hands, use a hammer on the legs to get to the meat inside, break open the claws properly to reveal the clump of succulent meat hidden inside, avoid the greenish yellow innards, (yuck!) and spit out the little bits of shell you could not avoid. Into the grass of course!
Crab pickin’ was pretty exciting stuff
And a whole lotta work for what turned out to be little return on investment. Not really much meat in one little crab. Hence the need for bushels of them we learned very quickly.
Best part about moving to Maryland was that my mom learned how to make Maryland Crab Soup. Crab cakes too, but her version of crab soup has been a staple in our lives since its inception. I prefer creamy soups and bisques but this is one tomato-based soup that I absolutely love and I don’t think anything you order in a restaurant will top it. Yes, I am biased, but I have made this soup numerous times using the recipe below and it’s a slam dunk every time.
Mom’s Maryland Crab Soup is the best I have ever tasted and there are probably a dozen people that would whole-heartedly agree with me. Funny thing is she has never tasted the soup herself.
She has an aversion to hot spicy food and Old Bay Seasoning has a distinct flavor which leans heavily toward hot spice and salt. Neither of which she tolerates well. My mother has honestly never tasted the soup she has prepared 2-3 times a year for the last 20+ years for her family and friends.
I call it Ginger’s Maryland Crab Soup but I did have to take a few liberties because she does not appear to have the recipe written and because she has never tasted it, I had to practice til I made it perfect.
One big difference between my mom’s version and mine is that she uses an entire pound of crabmeat. I think the soup tastes great using 1/2 pound. I typically do this intentionally so that I can use the other 1/2 pound and make crab cakes for dinner the night the soup is sitting overnight in the fridge.
This soup is not especially spicy but when making your own, keep in mind that if you do not tolerate spicy food well you can do two things easily:
- Reduce the Old Bay by half
- You can always add more
- Use regular V8 juice instead of Spicy V8
My first suggestion would be reduce the Old Bay rather than the V8 because that Old Bay Seasoning is very distinct and if you did not grow up in Maryland adding it to every meal you may find it surprising flavorful. If you love Old Bay add more but a little at a time.
You can always add more of anything but if you over do it you are up the creek.
Ginger's Maryland Crab Soup
- September 18, 2019
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- 1 lb shin meat bone-in
- 11/2 quarts water
- 11/2 quarts spicy V8
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 celery stalk chopped -reserve leafy tops
- 1-2 outer cabbage leaves
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cubes beef bouillon
- 1 10 oz package frozen mixed vegetables
- 1 C frozen corn
- 1/2 lb claw crabmeat
- 2T Old Bay Seasoning
- Step 1
- Add liquids to pot then beef shin and turn heat to high. Add cabbage leaves, bay leaves, celery leaves, bouillon and bring to low boil then reduce heat to a simmer until meat is tender about 1 1/2 hours
- Step 2
- Use tongs to remove the shin bone to a plate to cool. Add chopped onion and celery and frozen vegetables to pot and cook about 20 more minutes
- Step 3
- Once meat has cooled enough to handle pull or cut bite size chunks of meat from bone and add back to soup pot. Throw bone away. Let soup cool completely and refrigerate overnight
- Step 4
- Next day remove from fridge and warm up soup. Add crabmeat and Old Bay then adjust seasonings to your taste
- Step 5
- Serve with crusty bread or crackers