Maryland Cream of Crab Soup-Late Summer and Early Autumn

Growing up in Maryland after the crab feast we'd sit around the kitchen table and "pick crabs". The crab "pickings" (meat) was packed and save for crab soup or crab cakes. Crab soup is one of the easiest soups to master. It is an elegant soup to start a meal. Start to finish it will take less than 15 minutes. You could use fresh oysters instead of crab for a wonderful oyster stew. I'm asked by non-Marylanders if we really use Old Bay; of course we do we can't imagine crab without it. If you can't find Old Bay add a little more celery salt, Worcestershire sauce and a pinch of cayenne pepper.
Serves 4

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour,
1/4 teaspoon celery salt
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning or more to your taste
1/2 pound blue crab meat (preferably lump)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
3 cups milk, organic whole
1 cup heavy cream, organic
1 tablespoon sherry or whiskey (optional)
2 tablespoons chives, sliced 1/8 inch thick
1-2 chive blossoms (optional)

• Make a roux by melting 2 tablespoons of butter in the soup pot. Stir in flour and cook over medium heat for 2 minutes to cook the flour, being careful to not brown the roux. Remove from heat.

• In a separate saute pan add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and melt over medium heat, being careful to not brown the butter. Add the Worcestershire sauce, Old Bay seasoning and celery salt; mix well. Then add the crab meat and stir and shake pan to mix crab meat with the seasoned butter. Cook the crab swirling or stirring for 2 minutes.

• To the cooled roux add the cream and milk. Stirring with a wooden spoon constantly to make sure it doesn't scorch bring just to a simmer.

• Add the salt, pepper and sherry. Taste and adjust the salt, pepper and old Bay to your liking. If you are using the chive blossoms remove the purple flowers and reserve for the garnish. Pour into warm soup bowls and garnish with fresh chives and their blossoms.

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Copyright © Julie Logue Riordan, Cooking with Julie