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Old-School Baltimore Crab Soup


"This crab soup recipe mirrors the traditional crab soups made by Baltimore women over the last 50 years. It is a milder-flavored, lighter-colored soup than the ones typically served in modern seafood restaurants. Homemade crab soup is a staple at most Maryland cookouts and family gatherings. Serve with crackers."
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4 h 25 m servings 350 cals
Original recipe yields 12 servings


  • Calories:
  • 350 kcal
  • 17%
  • Fat:
  • 3.5 g
  • 5%
  • Carbs:
  • 64.3g
  • 21%
  • Protein:
  • 21.1 g
  • 42%
  • Cholesterol:
  • 34 mg
  • 11%
  • Sodium:
  • 2079 mg
  • 83%

Based on a 2,000 calorie diet

See full nutrition

Nutritional Information

1 Serving
Servings Per Recipe:
Amount Per Serving
  • * Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
  • ** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.
  • (-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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  • Prep

  • Cook

  • Ready In

  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the carrots, and cook uncovered until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain well, and set aside.
  2. Place the ham bone, barley, salt, and pepper in large stock pot with 4 cups of water. Simmer over medium heat for 30 to 45 minutes. Add cabbage and tomatoes; continue simmering for 15 more minutes. Stir in the potatoes and carrots. Simmer until the potatoes are tender and easily pierced with a fork, 20 to 30 minutes. Stir in 1 cup of water, corn, green beans, lima beans, and peas. Simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. While the soup is simmering, clean the crabs by opening it and discarding the lungs and mouth. Remove the yellowish-brown tomalley and set aside. Break the crabs in half and add to the soup along with the seafood seasoning. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Meanwhile, place the bacon in a large, deep skillet, and cook over medium-high heat, turning occasionally, until evenly browned, about 10 minutes. Drain the bacon slices on a paper towel-lined plate. Cook and stir the reserved tomalley in the remaining bacon grease over low heat until the mixture becomes gravy-like. Stir the cooked tomalley into the soup with 1 more cup of water. Continue simmering for 45 minutes, then add the lump crabmeat. Season with additional salt, pepper, and seafood seasoning, if necessary. Simmer for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low, until ready to serve.


  • Cook's Notes
  • There are several types of Maryland-style seafood seasonings available. The most popular brands are Old Bay® and J.O. Spice®.
  • If soup is too thick, add water, one cup at a time, and stir while simmering to thin out the soup. If soup becomes too thin or watery, add a can of tomato paste, stir and simmer, this should thicken the soup to the desired texture. Again, it's merely a matter of preference.

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Read all reviews 8
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This was a great soup! Female crabs are called "sooks" and fallis a great time to buy them cheap. You want to include the "coral" red stuff that is inthe cavities as well as the mustard to reall...


Lifelong Marylander here and this soup was just perfect! Tastes like real crab soup and not just some tomato based veggie soup with some Old Bay thrown in . Thanks for the recipe. Keeper for s...

Old school crab soup is the real thing. I have made it for years this way. The best and served in restaurants every where even OC.

I am not from this area and have never tried this soup but I loved it and I am now a big fan! I added chunked ham from the bone instead of bacon and used local (NC) crab and It was amazing. my...

I made this soup as best I could. Whole blue crabs were not available, so I ended up having to use all pre-packaged blue crab meat (I used a full pound.). I'm sure my soup wasn't as flavorful,...

Amazing! Skipped barley and potato. I'm from MD and this is the best. That is all.

I'm from Baltimore and this recipe is the real deal. It's excellent! I added onion and celery because that's the way my mother made it. I prefer it w/o the barley, but that's just me. My mother ...