Charleston, South Carolina is known for their elegant She Crab Soup. A cross between a bisque and a chowder, made with their famous blue crab meat. In elegant society, terrapin, oyster, or crab soups were the accepted preliminary to a sumptuous banquet.
This soup/bisque/chowder is considered the city’s signature dish. Local restaurants offer their own version, and in many Charleston restaurants, the soup du jour is often She Crab Soup. With the abundance of blue crabs available in the coastal Carolina waters, this soup became very popular.
History She Crab Soup:
Culinary historian John Martin Taylor, author of Hoppin’ John’s Lowcountry Cooking, 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 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 know as She Crab Soup.
Today this historic home is known as The John Rutledge House Inn and is an outstanding bed and breakfast offering gracious southern hospitality. John Rutledge built this elegant home as a wedding gift for his bride Elizabeth Grimke in 1763.
She Crab Soup Recipe: