This is the best cream of crab soup recipe that you will ever find! It is so easy to make and is absolutely delicious.
Serve this delectable soup with warm dinner rolls and a side salad for a complete meal.
When the weather outside is frightful, there’s nothing more comforting than a bowl of homemade soup. This cream of crab soup is the perfect recipe to warm you up on a cold winter’s day.
This soup is sure to become a new family favorite, made with fresh or canned crab meat, a creamy base, and plenty of rich flavors. So curl up with a bowl of this delicious soup and enjoy the cozy winter weather.
Why This Recipe Works
- Celery, onion, and garlic give the soup a flavorful base.
- Potatoes add thickness and creaminess to the soup.
- Seafood stock & clam juice add a rich seafood flavor.
- Bacon provides a smoky, salty flavor.
- White wine vinegar adds a bright acidity to balance out the flavors.
Crab Buying Guide
When shopping for crab meat, choosing the best quality possible is essential. Look for crab meat labeled “crab claw” or “jumbo lump.” These are the most tender and flavorful pieces of crab. Crab meat is marked as “lump,” as this is made with smaller, less-tender pieces of crab, but buy whatever you can with your budget.
If you can, try to buy fresh crab meat, which will be more expensive than canned meat but taste much better. If fresh crab meat is unavailable, look for canned crab meat labeled as “wild-caught” (meaning caught in the wild rather than farmed), and it will have a more seafood flavor.
Bacon: I use thick-cut bacon, but you can use regular or even turkey bacon if you’d like.
Celery: Use lighter green stalks for the best flavor, and use the leaves too.
Seafood Stock: You can make your own or buy it in a can. Alternatively, you can use vegetable or chicken stock.
Clam Juice: You can find it near the canned seafood section of your grocery store if you live in the US. If you can’t find it where you are, use more seafood stock or omit it.
Half and Half: You can use regular or low-fat or substitute with light cream, single cream, whole milk, or whipping cream.
Crab: Use cooked crab meat, either fresh or canned.
Vinegar: I prefer white wine vinegar, but you can substitute it with sherry vinegar or lemon juice.
Parsley: Use fresh parsley or substitute it with other herbs such as thyme or whole bay leaves.
Potatoes: Use waxy potatoes, such as Yukon Gold, red or new potatoes. These will hold their shape better during cooking.
Garlic: Use fresh garlic for the best flavor. If you need a shortcut, add whole cloves and then remove them before serving.
Flour: Use all-purpose or plain flour.
Spices: The mustard powder, paprika, nutmeg, and bay leaf can all be replaced with 2 teaspoons of old bay seasoning.
How to Make Homemade Seafood Stock
Making your own seafood stock is a great way to add flavor and depth to any seafood dish. You can ask your grocer for any shells from crabs or other shellfish they may have on hand, or you can save your shells from seafood dishes you have already eaten, which can also be an economical option. Here’s how to make it:
- Heat a few tablespoons of butter in a large pot over medium heat and add the shells.
- Cook for about five minutes until they begin to brown, and then add some chopped celery, onion, garlic, and herbs.
- Add enough water to cover the shells and simmer for about 45 minutes.
- Strain the liquid into a bowl and let it cool before using.
Step By Step Instructions
Starting with a cold pan, put the olive oil in a large stock pot and cook the bacon over medium-low heat until it is crispy.
If excessive fat is in the pan, remove all but about two tablespoons. Increase the heat to medium, and saute the celery and onion until they are tender in the bacon fat.
Add the garlic and stir until fragrant (around 30 seconds). Then add the paprika, dry mustard powder, and flour.
Coat the onion mixture well, and cook for another minute, stirring occasionally.
Add the stock slowly to the flour and stir until all the flour is incorporated with the stock, and scrape off any browned bits from the bottom of the pan before adding the stock.
Stir in the clam juice, then add the half and half, milk or cream.
Bring to a boil, and cook, occasionally stirring until thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add salt as needed. Then add the potatoes, bay leaf, and parsley.
Simmer, uncovered, for 15 to 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Then add the cooked crab meat.
Finish with white vinegar, state for seasoning, and add more salt as needed.
Serve and enjoy.
Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions
To make ahead: Cream of crab soup can be made two days in advance and stored in the refrigerator. Reheat it gently on the stovetop before serving.
To freeze: Cool the soup thoroughly before transferring it to an airtight container. Freeze for up to three months. To thaw, leave it in the refrigerator overnight or place the container in a bowl of warm water until it is thawed. Reheat the soup gently on the stovetop before serving.
Erren’s Top Tips & Variations
- To omit the bacon, substitute olive oil for the bacon fat to saute the onions and celery.
- If you can, try to buy fresh crab meat. It will be more expensive than canned but taste much better. If fresh crab meat is unavailable, look for canned crab meat labeled as Look for crab meat that is labeled “crab claw” or “jumbo lump.” These are the most tender and flavorful pieces of crab.
- Sauté the bacon until crisp before adding it to the soup. This will add flavor and texture to the soup.
- When cooking bacon, start with a cold pan and a lower heat. This will help render out more of the bacon fat and give you crispier bacon.
- Remember to add the celery leaves! Adding them to the soup adds tons of flavor.
- Only cook until the potatoes are tender; overcooked potatoes will break down and make the soup starchy.
- Make your own seafood stock (see my instructions in the article above) for a big flavor boost.
- Don’t forget the splash of vinegar – it cuts the richness and adds brightness.
- Clam juice can be salty, so taste the soup and adjust the amount of salt as necessary.
Variety is the spice of life, and that’s certainly true when it comes to soup. Here are a few variations of my cream of crab soup recipe that will add excitement to your next meal.
Seafood Chowder: Add more shellfish, like shrimp or scallops, for seafood chowder. Add them raw for the last 5 minutes of cooking time.
Roasted Garlic Seafood Chowder: Add one head of mashed roasted garlic cloves in place of the garlic cloves called for in the recipe.
Dill Seafood Chowder: Add one tablespoon of fresh dill weed in place of the parsley called for in the recipe.
Corn Chowder with Crab: Add one cup of frozen corn kernels in place of the potatoes called for in the recipe. Stir in one (15-ounce) can of crab meat at the end of cooking.
Did you make this?
Receive new recipes & dinner ideas straight to your inbox!
Let’s Make Cream of Crab Soup
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 bacon strips chopped
- 3 celery ribs chopped
- 1 onion (large) chopped
- 2 garlic cloves (small) minced
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon dry mustard powder
- ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup seafood stock or chicken stock
- 8 oz clam juice or seafood stock
- 2 cups half-and-half
- 3 potatoes (medium) peeled and cubed
- 1 dried bay leaf
- 3 tablespoons parsley chopped
- 1 lb crab meat cooked or canned
- 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
- In a large stock pot, starting with a cold pan, add the olive oil and cook bacon over medium-low heat until crisp.
- Raise the heat to medium, and saute the celery and onion in the bacon drippings until tender. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant (around 30 seconds).
- Stir in the paprika, dry mustard powder, nutmeg, pepper, and flour. Coat the onion mixture well. Cook for another minute, stirring occasionally.
- Slowly stir in the stock to combine with the flour and deglaze the pan, scraping off anything from the bottom of the pan then stir in the clam juice and half and a half until combined. Bring to a boil, and cook, occasionally stirring until thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add salt as needed.
- Stir in the potatoes, bay leaf, pepper, and parsley. Return to a boil. Reduce the heat, and simmer, uncovered, until potatoes are tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
- Add the vinegar and most of the crabmeat, and allow to warm through. Taste for seasoning and add more salt as needed before serving.