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She Crab Soup

Can someone educate me on what exactly a She Crab Soup is supposed to be like?

Is it more like a lobster bisque? Or more chowder like?

And is crab roe a requisite ingredient?

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  1. I'd never heard of it until I moved to the south. I've had several varieties but most are closest to chowders. Most recipes call for roe but a restaurant in my city that's well-known for she crab soup doesn't use roe. One of the key ingredients is a drizzle of sherry on top. Also, chopped eggs. It's delicious.

    1. The she crab soup I've had in restaurants in the Outer Banks of North Carolina are more like a thick bisque - I would not say chowder as when I think of chowder I think of a soup which has potatoes in it. I don't believe they contain the roe. Many old timer local recipes which I've seen do, however.

      1. The versions I have had resembled a bisque instead of a chowder. It has a pink color that comes from the crab roe. Although I am under the impression, and I could be wrong, it is illegal to catch and not release female crabs w/roe. Sherry is typically served on the side to be poured on top.

          1. The she-crab soup I have had was more like a bisque. I am going down to Hilton Head, and Savannah for a week, and plan on eating a cup or two of she-crab soup every day I am down there, so I will report back on what I encounter.

            1 Reply
            1. re: swsidejim

              I had about 8 different bowls of she crab soup when I was in Hilton Head, SC.. All but the 2 bowls I had at Charleys Crab were chowder like consistancy, and just average.

              The one @ Charleys Crab was spectacular, requiring me to make 2 visits on back to back days. A bowl was brought out with the ample crab plus julienne carrots, and zuchini. In a seperate pitcher was the rich broth that was then poured over the ingredients in the bowl. The broth a bisque type broth with the hint of sherry was very good, and the 2nd best soup I have ever had(the best being the stone crab bisque @ Joes Seafood, Prime Steaks, and Stone Crab in Chicago).

            2. omg I looked up she-crab soup, as I had never heard of it before... I am going to make some tomorrow, that sounded so good I am salivating at the thought of it. Crab is my all time favorite seafood.

              1. Thanks for everyone's responses; they are all quite interesting.

                The reason I ask is because I've tried She Crab Soup at two different places in South Carolina and each was really strikingly different from the other.

                One was made with roux and cream and reminded very much of clam chowder.

                Another was made (from what I was told) with just fish and shrimp stock, but no cream whatsoever.

                Both were quite good, esp. with a big plate of dirty rice ...

                But now I'd like to know if there is such a thing as a "standard" or "traditional" She Crab Soup ...

                8 Replies
                1. re: ipsedixit

                  maybe it is like clam chowder, one has cream, the other a tomato base.

                    1. re: LaLa

                      Hyman's, Anson and Hominy Grill.

                      1. re: ipsedixit

                        She crab soup was "invented" in the early 20th century when William Deas, butler to the mayor of Charleston at the time, added crab roe to the crab soup being served to visiting President Taft. Here's a good web page that tells the history: http://whatscookingamerica.net/Histor...

                        The website describes the soup as a cross between a bisque and chowder, but I lean towards bisque. With the exception of the crab meat and roe, the soup should have a fairly smooth consistency. I've found that more upscale restaurants, like Anson's, typically serve somthing closer to bisque while cheaper restaurants, like Hyman's, serve a much thinner version. I like the thicker version, though it shouldn't be too thick, and I think it's the more authentic. Hank's in downtown Charleston serves the consistently best version I've found.

                        It should be noted that many she crab soups are really he crab soups and do not contain crab roe. Crumbled hard boiled egg yolks are often used as a substitute, if an inferior one.

                        1. re: Low Country Jon

                          Thanks for the info Jon. I'll have to try Hanks sometime.

                          Any thoughts on 82 Queen and their She Crab Soup?

                          1. re: ipsedixit

                            It's been several years since I've visited 82 Queen. I used to think their she crab soup was quite good; a recent report on this board was not positive, however.

                        2. re: ipsedixit

                          Since I live in Charleston, I would be interested in knowing which version came from where.

                          I also found this from local historian John Martin Taylor
                          http://whatscookingamerica.net/Histor...

                          1. re: lizzy

                            Thank you Low Country John and Lizzy. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Please see response June 4, 1:25 PM above.

                    2. She-Crab soup is from SC as am I. Starts with a roux. It does (if made correctly) have crab roe (usually only available in the spring, so its seasonal) Upon serving, usually Sherry & a tad of worchestire sauce is stirred in along with a little cayenne pepper. Plenty of recipes around. Most notable those from Charleston SC