“Rich, hearty, and flavorful, she-crab soup is a family and regional favorite,” writes Emily Meggett in her new cookbook, Gullah Geechee Homecooking: Recipes from The Matriarch of Edisto Island. “Named for the female crab ‘roe’ found in many versions of the bisque-like dish, she-crab soup is served in homes and restaurants throughout the Lowcountry, including the South Carolina and Georgia coasts. I made this favorite for the Dodge family—who loved their soup with a dash of sherry—and my own family, who enjoyed this at celebrations or during holidays. She-crab soup is a rich soup, and it’s meant to be enjoyed with the ones you love. Oyster crackers, warm homemade biscuits, or Tam Tam crackers make great sides because they don’t overpower the soup’s delicate crab flavor.”
Classic She-Crab Soup
A Southern coastal staple prepared by the matriarch of Edisto Island
photo: Clay Williams
She-Crab Soup (SERVES: 8 TO 10)
1 cup cooked long-grain white rice, plus ½ cup more if needed
2 cups whole milk, plus ½ cup more if needed
2 cups half-and-half
½ tsp. ground mace
1½ tsp. Nature’s Seasons seasoning blend
Salt, to taste
¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter
1 cup diced celery
2 lbs. crab meat
½ cup sherry, for serving (optional)
Scallions, thinly sliced, for garnish (optional)
Place the cooked rice, 1 cup of the milk, and 1 cup of the half-and-half in a blender. Blend until it becomes a thick, smooth mixture.
Bring about 2 quarts water to a boil in a large pot. Place a large steel mixing bowl over the pot of boiling water. Do not let the bottom of the mixing bowl touch the boiling water (you may use a double boiler if you have one). Reduce the heat to medium. In the steel bowl or double boiler, combine the rice mixture and the remaining 1 cup each of whole milk and half-and-half. Add the mace, Nature’s Seasons, and salt. Stir the mixture, taste, and add more seasoning if needed. The mixture should be thick, like a bisque. If it’s not thick enough, blend about ½ cup additional cooked rice and ½ cup additional milk together and add it to the mixture.
In a medium skillet, melt the butter. Sauté the celery for 3 minutes over medium heat, retaining its green color. Add the celery to the soup. Taste the soup, and add seasoning as needed.
Fold the crabmeat into the soup. Do not stir, because that will break up the crabmeat. Three or four folding movements should do the trick.
Transfer the soup to a separate large pot and cook over low heat for 7 to 10 minutes. Serve. If you’re using sherry, guests can pour the sherry over their soup to their liking.
Excerpt from the new book Gullah Geechee Homecooking: Recipes from The Matriarch of Edisto Island, by Emily Meggett, published by Abrams. Text © 2022 Emily Meggett. Photography by Clay Williams.
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