Sip & Savor

Southern Cuisine History: She Crab Soup

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, so why not try to recreate The Palmetto Cafe’s She Crab Soup?

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

Directions: 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!

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Arts & Culture, Discovery

A Symbol of Southern Hospitality

A leisurely stroll along any of the charming and historic streets of the Charleston peninsula lend the eye and ear many enchanting sights and sounds. Glances to the left and right can reveal hidden gardens filled with sweeping ivy and the gentle sound of bubbling fountains. And there is always the faint clip, clop of horse’s hooves on cobblestone streets. If you look closely enough, you may notice that one symbol in particular seems to pop up quite often, the pineapple. This has become ubiquitous to the Charleston area, but few know what the tiny emblem actually represents.

Sprinkled all over downtown, pineapples can be spotted on doors, atop gates, adorning houses and even on some pieces of jewelry. So what’s the deal with these little fruits, and why are Charlestonians so obsessed with them? It’s because the pineapple has historically served as a symbol of Southern hospitality. According to Levins.com, pineapples were often the main attraction of the large and decadent centerpieces commonly found at extravagant Southern dinner parties. The fruit therefore came to represent the warmth of friendship that was shared at gatherings, as well as the prestige of being in attendance. Some Charlestonians will also tell you that pineapples use to be given as presents on someone’s doorstep, as a sign of friendship. As architects and dignitaries began to pick up on the symbol and what it represented, pineapples were soon incorporated into many of the architectural details in Charleston.

The history of the pineapple explains the popularity of one of the most iconic, photographed spots in town. Visit the Pineapple fountain at Waterfront Park while sightseeing, or after a lovely dinner, as it’s a treat to see any time of day. If you visit the park during daylight hours you can snap a picture of the Charleston harbor behind the fountain, and as soon as the sun sets you can behold the pineapple lit up and glowing against a gorgeous starlight sky. The fountain is a landmark for many visiting the Charleston peninsula, and is a must-see experience.

One of the best ways to understand what the pineapple truly represents is to visit Charleston for yourself. The city is known for making visitors feel right at home with its hospitable charm, and the pineapple is just a token of this feeling. The next time you visit the Holy City, take some extra time to notice the cheery way that locals greet each other. Charlestonians pride themselves on being welcoming to all who visit, and that is one reason why those who have experienced Charleston say that it is unlike any other city. In fact, Charleston has been consistently ranked by Travel + Leisure as one of the friendliest cities in the United States.

Because of the unique history of the pineapple, visitors and locals alike have come to sport jewelry that features this Southern symbol. Whether it’s a commitment to being hospitable to all, or a charming reminder of time spent in the Holy City, people seem to love all that the pineapple represents. If you want to add a piece of pineapple jewelry to your collection, you won’t have to look too hard, just venture down King Street and visit the many boutiques which feature a variety of pineapple-inspired pieces. The charm pictured below can be purchased from Pandora in The Shops at Belmond Charleston Place.

The Palmetto Cafe at Belmond Charleston Place especially prides itself on being welcoming to guests who dine here. As a token of this sentiment, and as a delightful end to your delicious meal, guests are served a candied pineapple slice that has been dipped in milk chocolate. Hoping that each guest feels the warmth and hospitality of Charleston when they visit, this pineapple treat is the perfect end to an exceptional dining experience.

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