America is a melting pot that was formed by the hard-working people who migrated here from lands as far east as China and Japan, as far north as Russia and Europe. They utilized American supplies and prepared them in ways that they had prepared them in their homeland. True American food is a collection of these culinary traditions passed down from generation to generation”.Each culture brought its cooking methods, food, and spices to America. They farmed the soil, hunted game, and incorporated their ways into the food of America.
She-crab soup is a rich soup, similar to bisque, made of milk or heavy cream, fish stock, Atlantic blue crab meat, and (traditionally) crab roe, and a small amount of dry sherry. It may be thickened either by heat reduction or with a purée of boiled rice; it may also include such seasonings as mace and shallots or onions. The soup is named for the “she-crab”, or female crab, originally a gravid (roe-carrying) crab, as the orange crab roe comprise a chief ingredient in traditional she-crab soup.
The soup is a regional specialty from Tidewater Virginia, the South Carolina Lowcountry, and the Georgia coast. It is commonly featured on the menus of many Charleston, South Carolina, and Savannah, Georgia restaurants.
Culinary historian John Martin Taylor credits the Scottish settlers who arrived in the Carolinas in the early 1700s with bringing their famous seafood bisque recipes called partan-bree, a crab and rice soup, to the area.
The addition of the crab roe (or crab eggs) is credited to William Deas, a butler and a cook to R. Goodwyn Rhett, mayor of Charleston. According to the local legend, William Howard Taft (1857-1930), 27th president of the United States, was being “wined and dined” by Mayor R. Goodwyn Rhett (1862-1939), mayor of Charleston from 1903 to 1911 residence – the home of one of the original signers of the United States Constitution, John Rutledge. Rhett’s most prominent guest was William Howard Taft, who visited Charleston in 1909 and again in 1910. Supposedly, the Rhetts’ asked their butler to “dress up” the pale crab soup they usually served. The butler added orange-hued crab eggs to give color and improve the flavor, thus inventing the Charleston delicacy known as She Crab Soup.
Today this historic home is known as The John Rutledge House Inn and is a well-known bed and breakfast offering gracious southern hospitality. John Rutledge built this elegant home as a wedding gift for his bride Elizabeth Grimke in 1763.
John Rutledge House Inn She Crab Soup Recipe
5 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup celery, finely chopped
2 cups crab meat
3 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup chicken stock
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2/3 teaspoon mace
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1 cup heavy cream
Salt to taste
1/4 cup Worcestershire Sauce
3 tablespoons sherry
2 eggs, hard-boiled and grated (optional)
John Rutledge House Inn She Crab Soup Instructions:
Recipe courtesy of The John Rutledge House Inn.
In a large heavy pot over low heat, melt butter; add celery, mace, and white pepper. Cook until the celery is almost transparent.
king, heat the milk and chicken stock in a small saucepan, until just hot, but not boiling.
When the celery mix is done cooking, stir in the flour to make a Roux-type mixture. Do not brown but heat enough to bubble for several minutes.
Slowly stir in the hot milk mixture and salt to the roux. Add the crab meat, cream, Worcestershire Sauce, and sherry. Let simmer for approximately 30 minutes or until thickened to appropriate consistency.
To serve, sprinkle with grated hard-boiled eggs and some paprika.