She Crab Soup has been a Southern signature dish for decades, bringing warm, rich flavor to kitchen tables throughout Charleston. While local restaurants offer their own versions, this rich and filling soup traditionally consists of heavy cream, blue crab meat and crab roe (eggs) with dry sherry often added as it is plated.

Large numbers of Scottish immigrants began settling in Charleston during the 1700s.  One traditional dish they brought with them was partan-bree, a crab and rice soup. The settlers began to adjust their recipe to incorporate blue crabs because of the abundance in the area.  This Scottish soup served as a starting point, but She Crab Soup as we know it today was not developed until the early 1900s.  As the story goes, R. Goodwyn Rhett, Mayor of Charleston, was entertaining President Taft at his home.  The Rhett’s butler, William Deas, was asked to create a fancier version of their traditional crab soup.  He added the orange-hued crab eggs of mature female crabs, called “she crabs” by fishermen, to give color and improve the flavor, thus inventing the Charleston delicacy known as She Crab Soup.

This delightful and smooth seafood soup is sure to impress your friends and family, try to recreate the Palmetto Cafe’s She Crab Soup with Sherry, or come in and try it for yourself!

Traditional She Crab Soup with Sherry, from the Palmetto Cafe

Ingredients
Butter
Flour
Yellow Onion (minced)
Celery (minced)
Bay Leaf
Thyme (chopped)
Dry Sherry
Milk (cold)
Heavy Cream (cold)
Lobster Stock
Crab Roe (minced)
Crabmeat
Nutmeg
Salt and Pepper
Quantity
2 oz
2 oz
3 oz
3 oz
1 small leaf
1 tsp
1 oz
3 c
1 oz
2½ c
1 ½ oz
4 oz
To taste
To taste

 

In a heavy gauge pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and cook the mixture constantly stirring to a golden straw color (appx. 7 minutes). Add the onion, celery, thyme and bay leaf and continue cooking for another 10 minutes. Add the milk, cream and half of the lobster stock. Cook 20 minutes. Add the minced crab roe to the remaining lobster stock and combine it with the sherry. Add this mixture along with the nutmeg and seasonings to the rest of the soup. Cook for 10 minutes. Add the crabmeat and cook an additional 5 minutes. Garnish with fresh crabmeat mixed with chopped thyme. This recipe serves 6 to 8 people, bon appétit!