Virginia's She-Crab Soup Recipe
Whether sitting down for a noon meal (“lunch” elsewhere but “dinner” at Virginia’s) or for an evening meal (“dinner” elsewhere but “supper” at Virginia’s), guests here can expect a heaping serving of authentic Charleston-born gentility and truly Southern gustatory pleasures. Country Fried Steak Served with Red-Eye Gravy, Stuffed Pork Chops, Fried Pickles, and Brown Sugar-Glazed Ham and more come directly from the recipe file of the restaurant’s namesake, one Mrs. Virginia Bennett. A native of Charleston, Mrs. Bennett believes in the tradition of breaking bread and sharing good food with her large brood. For years, she, her six children, and husband Warren J. convened in their home to dine on Sunday afternoons (which later become Thursday afternoons) for a multigenerational family dinner.
Now, everyone’s invited to share in the tasty tradition, which is served seven days a week at the restaurant. Executive Chef Jason Murphy literally sat down with Virginia to look over every single one of her recipes and tweak as needed. As luscious as the food is (especially the fried okra with house-made remoulade that will leave you crying for more), the smart, mercifully gingham-free décor is not to be overlooked. Guess who had a say in all of that that? If you look around on a Thursday afternoon, you might just see the grand dame herself.
Adapted from "The Charleston Chef's Table" by Holly Herrick.
- 2 sticks ( ½ pound) sweet butter
- 2 small carrots, peeled and cut into fine even dice
- 1 onion, cut into fine even dice
- 1 large stalk celery, cut into fine even dice
- ½ cup plus 3 tablespoons sherry
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 3 quarts heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons hot sauce (preferably Frank’s
- Hot Sauce)
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ pound crab roe
- ½ pound fresh blue crab meat
- 1 tablespoon honey
- Salt and white pepper, to taste
In a large soup pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the carrots, onion, and celery. Stir to coat and cook until the vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high and add ½ cup of sherry (reserving the rest for later). Stir and cook until the sherry has reduced by half.
Stir in the flour to create a roux. Cook the roux over medium-low heat (do not allow it to color), until it has thickened and formed a loose paste, 3-5 minutes. Add the heavy cream, whisking to incorporate with the roux. Cook over medium heat until the soup base has thickened, about 10 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and cook another 20 minutes, or until the soup has thickened enough to slightly coat the back of a spoon and the crab is cooked. Taste and adjust salt and pepper as needed. Discard the bay leaf. Serve in shallow bowls that showcase the soup’s silky texture and pale pink blush. If desired, garnish each soup with a drizzle of the remaining sherry.