The Mediterranean Twist on this Maryland Classic

Hi everyone, I know that the last thing that you are probably craving with the hot humid weather is a  steamy bowl of soup. Unless you live in Maryland that is, then Maryland Crab Soup is a craving that is definitely felt year round. Of course, it’s partner in crime to lure you in during those summer months is pairing this soup with our world famous Hot and Spicy Steamed Crabs!

As you know I was born in Pennsylvania but moved to Maryland when I was a young girl and my father’s company transferred our family to Baltimore. So believe me when I tell you that we were not a big seafood family.  We were actually a bit leery and confused about the obsession Marylanders had with these little-clawed crustations of the Chesapeake. The big seafood night in our house was Friday and the big seafood meal… Mrs. Paul’s Frozen Fish Sticks, lol.  Yes indeed, I remember it well, right down to the little packet of relish that was in the box that you mixed with mayonnaise to make tartar sauce. So you can see why our love for seafood was a gradual one, but I am proud to say I have become quite the expert on eating those spicy steamed crabs and have mastered the perfect Maryland Crab Cake as well as other seafood specialties.

Maryland Crabs traditionally are slathered with Old Bay (a special blend of herbs & spices) then steamed to perfection. The Old Bay Spice is another Maryland tradition and cannot be found everywhere in the United States. It is produced by McCormick & Company located here in Baltimore, MD. We are a Chesapeake Bay area State known for all types of fresh seafood but especially for our Blue Crab. Old Bay was created by a German immigrant named Gustav Brunn in 1939.  Since the blue crab was so plentiful back in the 30′s and 40′s many of the restaurants offered them for FREE in order to encourage their patrons to drink more.

Wow, that is crazy considering we can now pay up to $100 per dozen for premium Maryland steamed crabs. Old Bay was originally named “Delicious Brand Shrimp and Crab seasoning”.  It didn’t really stick so eventually our legendary Old Bay was named after a steamship line that traveled the Chesapeake between Maryland and Virginia. This unique blend is why Old Bay has become a household staple across the country.

Authentic Maryland Crab Soup

Prep time: 30 min
Cook time: 60 min
Yield: very large pot approx. 3 gallons


  • 1  stick of butter
  • 1  16oz bag of frozen lima beans
  • 6  sm-med red skin potatoes, cut to small dice
  • 2   large vidalia onions chopped to medium dice
  • 1   large stalk of celery, cut in 1/2 inch pieces on the bias
  • 1  16oz bag of baby carrots or 16oz bag frozen whole baby carrots
  • 4  tbsp. Old bay Seasoning
  • 2  tsp red pepper flakes or less depending on the heat you want
  • 1 tbsp. granulated garlic
  • 1 tbsp. black pepper
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1/4cup worstershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup beef base concentrate
  • 2  32oz boxes seafood stock
  • 1 # of fresh baby French string beans or regular cit in half or 1 16oz bag frozen whole string beans
  • 1  16oz bag of frozen sweet yellow corn or fresh corn if in season
  • 1  16oz bag of frozen sweet peas
  • 3  14.5oz cans of petite diced tomatoes
  • 2  29oz cans tomato puree
  • 1  6oz can tomato paste
  • 2 # backfin crabmeat
  • 2 # claw crabmeat


Remember you can cut this recipe in half, but you will still need a  large stock pot. Melt butter on low heat in soup/stock pot. Place bag of lima beans in pot and cover. While that is simmering cut the potatoes and add to the pot, stir and cover. Cut the celery and onions, cut baby carrots on an angle if they are not petite.  Add these to the pot and stir well. Add 2 tsp of the Old Bay and 1 Tsp of red pepper flakes, granulated garlic and black pepper to vegetables, stir and cover.  Let simmer for 30-40 minutes until all the vegetables are tender.

Then add the wine, Worcestershire, beef base and seafood stock to the pot. Stir and then add the string beans, corn, peas, diced tomatoes with juice, tomato puree and tomato paste. Stir well, cover and raise the heat to med-high and bring to a boil, stirring often. Gently break up crab meat and pick for shells. Reduce heat to a simmer and add the crab meat and final 2 tbsp. of Old Bay. Stir gently and let simmer for 30 min.

Tips: If you cannot get a hold of Old Bay, another brand of seafood seasoning will be ok.  As far as salt goes, Old Bay and Beef Base have salt in them, so do not add salt or very little only after you have tasted the soup. The reason I do not use jumbo lump or lump crabmeat in my soup is because the expense of this deliciously amazing crab meat. Jumbo Lump and Lump Crab Meat are very expensive and you do not need to use this crab meat in a soup with all of those wonderful vegetables. The perfect and famous Maryland Crab cake is known for the big lumps that are held together with just a little binder.  I use claw meat in my soup for its intense crab flavor, to me claw meat adds the best crab flavor. The back fin is also flavorful and less expensive than jumbo lump or lump and perfect for the soup as well.

True pioneers of  Maryland Crab Soup will take leftover steamed crabs to make their soup. They pick the meat, then boil the shells for the stock and will throw the crab claws with shell into their soups. Yet, however you choose to make this soup, it is truly an amazing blend of flavors that all soup or seafood lovers crave when they visit Maryland.

Mediterranean Crab Soup is my twist on the Maryland classic. The base of the two soups is the same but I replace some of the traditional vegetables for some Mediterranean favorites. Remember, Crab soup is basically a very rich tomato based vegetable soup. It is the addition of Old Bay, Crab Meat and a few other ingredients that turn it into our famous Maryland Crab soup. I think you will like my spin on this classic, so here we go…

Mediterranean Crab Soup

Mediterranean Crab Soup

Prep time: 30min
Cook time: 60min
Yield: 1 &1/2 gallons


  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 3 sm-med red potatoes diced small
  • 5 celery stalks sliced on an angle
  • 1 vidalia onion diced
  • 1/2 # baby carrot, sliced on angle
  • 1/2# string beans snipped
  • 1 tbsp. old bay seasoning
  • 1 tbsp. ground cumin
  • 2 tsp. granulated garlic
  • 2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 15.5 oz can chic peas, drained
  • 1  15.5 oz can Large Butter Beans, drained or Large Lima beans frozen from Greek specialty stores
  • 1/2 cup chopped kalamata olives
  • 6  pepperocinis sliced
  • 1 bag frozen whole Okra sliced, or 12 fresh
  • 2 cans 15.5 oz petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 can 29 oz tomato puree
  • 2 tbs. worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 6 cups beef stock
  • 1 # backfin crab meat
  • 1 # claw crab meat


Place butter in a soup pot, add onions, potatoes, celery and string beans, cover and simmer on low.  Add the Old Bay, the cumin, granulated garlic and black pepper to vegetables, stir and cover.  Let simmer for 30-40 minutes until all the vegetables are tender.

Then add the butter beans, chickpeas, kalamata olives, pepperoncini, and okra. Stir well add wine, Worcestershire, beef stock, diced tomatoes and puree to pot. Stir well, cover and raise the heat to med-high and bring to a boil, stirring often. Gently break up crab meat and pick for shells. Reduce heat to a simmer and add the crabmeat.  Stir gently and let simmer for 30 min.

Note: For those that think they may not like cumin but love Chili or other Mexican foods, then you are in luck. Yes, cumin is also popular in certain Greek dishes such as Soutzoukakia (a Turkish/Greek meatball) which has cumin and cinnamon.  Yet remember this is Crab soup and the combination of the Old Bay and Cumin with these popular Mediterranean vegetables is the best of both worlds!

I hope you decide to try one or both of these soup creations. Your friends and family will love these hardy soups. Enjoy and share a little of this Maryland tradition and my twisted version, even your Yia Yia from Omaha will love this soup! You can see my official taste testers loved it!


Chef Steff