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Old-School Baltimore Crab Soup

Rated as 4.6 out of 5 Stars

"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
Original recipe yields 12 servings


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  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.

Nutrition Facts

Per Serving: 350 calories; 3.5 64.3 21.1 34 2079 Full nutrition

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Read all reviews 9
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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...

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 ...

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...

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,...

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 made a few changes this was the first time I made crab soup so I left out barley,ham and added 2 lb of crab and 6 crabs,and lots of old bay,and used a soup bone that I cooked for and hour and...

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...

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