I know you’re here because you want a quick, easy Maryland crab soup recipe for your Instant Pot and I’ll get right to it, I promise. But first, I need you to know two things: I was born and raised in Baltimore on the water and I know what crab soup is supposed to be. I know how to catch, steam, and pick my own crabs, and I learned how to make crab soup two different ways from each of my grandmothers, who were both also born and raised in Baltimore. My grandmother’s crab cake recipe is on the blog here.
Also, a true Baltimorean looking at this recipe is going to think I’m insane. Yes, I know that’s a bunch of cans and a few unique new things you don’t put in your own soup. Trust me. No, it’s not the way my grandmothers made it, but their recipes took all day and required fresh, live crabs. I need you to trust me. Yes, we are using a few non-traditional ingredients like canned crab and steak sauce. JUST TRUST ME, OKAY. I tested this recipe many, many times until I found one that I would be happy to put up against almost any restaurant in Ocean City. I wanted this recipe to be something easy to throw together on a weeknight and accessible to anyone, all year long. I bought most of these ingredients, including the crab, from our local Walmart.
It’s also very healthy. You can easily make this soup plant-based by just omitting the crab and then you’ll have an awesome vegetable soup that’s even more affordable to make. I do that a lot with this recipe because I try to stay primarily plant-based for health reasons, although I do eat seafood a few times throughout the year.
Yeah, okay, you wanted the recipe. Here you go!
Maryland Crab Soup (serves 8)
Ingredients (I know, there are a lot of them, but I bet you keep most stocked in your pantry already.) I used a 6 quart Instant Pot Duo for this recipe.
- 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 1 large or 2 small Russet potatoes, chopped (any potato is fine, I don’t even peel them)
- 2 cans (15oz) or 1 frozen bag of mixed vegetables
- 1 (15 oz) can of diced tomatoes
- 1 (8 oz) can of tomato sauce (or a few tablespoons of ketchup)
- 1 tsp or cube of any kind of bullion (or use stock instead of water) I use vegetable bullion, but it will taste even more like the traditional style if you use beef stock.
- 2 Bay Leaves
- 1 entire can of kidney beans (liquid also, that is important)
- 2 entire 6 oz cans of lump crab meat (liquid too, and it absolutely has to be REAL crab, not imitation.)
- 1 tbsp of steak sauce
- 2 tbsp Old Bay Seafood Seasoning (add more or less as desired)
- 1 cup of any red wine
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Add water until you are just below the max fill line on your Instant Pot.
Directions: Dump all of the ingredients into your Instant Pot and press the soup button. Make sure the knob is set to “seal.” The soup function will take about 30 minutes of cooking time, after it comes up to pressure. When it is finished, let it naturally release for 10 minutes before venting.
That’s it! We serve it with saltines and set out additional Old Bay for people to add to their own bowls.
This recipe reminds me of the summer days I spent around my grandmother’s table picking the crabs my grandfather caught and sorting their meat into three piles: some to eat by itself, some for crab cakes, and some for soup.
A few notes:
- Do not drain any of the cans, just dump them all right into your pot, including the liquid.
- You want to use lump crab meat. You can get fancy and spend a lot more money to buy some fresh lump crab from the seafood counter, but I really don’t recommend it. Fresh meat is 4x the price of canned and this is soup, so all the flavors are going to meld together anyway. (They are going to take away my Baltimore card for telling you to avoid fresh crab, but the Instant Pot is going to break it up quite a bit and honestly it’s a waste of your money to buy the expensive stuff for this recipe. But that’s also why it has to be lump, the cheaper cans will break up so much that they will just liquify into the soup, whereas the lump meat will leave you with some visible crab meat after the cooking process is finished.)
- Yes, you have to use Old Bay or a similar seafood seasoning if you want this to be a Maryland Crab soup. Otherwise it will just taste like minestrone.
- I personally would not substitute a different kind of beans. The red bean liquid is part of what gives this soup its color and body.
- I do not recommend omitting the wine or the steak sauce (although you could use Worcestershire in place of steak sauce). It adds quite a bit of depth because we are cooking this soup in 30 minutes, as opposed to the all-day-long-make-you-own-stock recipes my grandmothers used.
- If you are a meat-eater, I do recommend maybe trying to add a few pieces of raw bacon, chopped small to the other ingredients or melting some bacon fat on the bottom of the pot before cooking.
- Like any soup, it is even better on the second day.
- I haven’t tried it, but I would think that if you omit the potatoes then this soup would freeze well, or even work as a make-ahead freezer meal.
My husband is also a Baltimore native, and Eddie has given this soup his seal of approval as well. He goes back for a second or third bowl every time I make it. Please let me know if you try it! Especially if you are from Baltimore, I’m very curious to hear what you think.
Don’t forget to pin or share this recipe to save it for later, and be sure to check out our crab cake recipe while you’re here.