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A Bowl Of Crab Soup – Catching Dinner In The "Backyard"

Crab Soup

People I meet when on travels are often wondering whether I am exaggerating when I enthusiastically mention getting our dinner fresh from the dock or the sea. The answer as you can see from the pictures below is no. Not at all. All the possessions in the world will never equate the intense sense of gratitude we feel from being so close to the water and taking some time receiving from the ocean some of its bounty.

Extended Backyard

View from the dock – what we call "the extended backyard".

We are indeed lucky to be able to just go catch a dozen crabs on a sunny Sunday afternoon or cast our net during shrimp season to make fresh shrimp and pesto linguine for dinner. Yes. We know. Once that first shrimp hits our lips, we can smell and taste all the depths of the ocean in just one bite. Slightly sweet, a bit salty, strong earthy flavor. It’s like that first sip of perfectly cold beer on a sweltering day. Magic.

Bailey At The Dock

Bailey is one happy puppy!

I sort of apply the same feelings to the first soup enjoyed on the first chilly day of the year. I’ve been making the same ones every season. Crab soup and lentil soup with a poached egg on top. I can’t say we get really cold weather here, maybe for a few weeks, but the little nip of crisp and chill weather is enough to turn everyone to light fires and make soup. Just because it’s a bit chilly. Just to take the edge off.

Setting and Lowering Crab Traps

Bailey and Bill checking on the crab catching progress.

Impatiently waiting for a drop in temperature last week, I got the pups and the husband to the dock to enjoy the cool ocean breeze for a little while. Once home, I opened up all the windows one night and let the breeze come wafting in while I started simmering this soup.

Dinner Catch - In My Backyard

This guy is a little cold – not too speedy to realize what the heck is going on…

Anyone who has spent some time with the ocean will tell you that the world moves at a different pace. It tells you when your dinner is caught, not the other way around. It tells you to slow down for a while and just be. Observe. You might see some pretty nifty things this way.

Pirate Fiddler Crab & Baby Shrimp

A fiddler crab that looks straight out of "Pirates of The Caribbean" he spent so much time under water. A baby shrimp almost translucent as it’s still building strength and character. A few porpoises at sunset playing hide and seek on the horizon (pics next time).

Mad Crab

Trust me….he’s not reaching for a hug.

Yes. I like traveling but I also like coming home. I am a mountain girl from the rocky side hills of Provence. I can also crack, pull apart and pick a crab faster than my mother in law now. Ha! I’m still discovering all that the ocean has to give and the abundant seafood culture of the South. But trust me I do my best every week while cooking to appreciate it even more. Starting with crab soup.

Simple, naturally sweet from the crab and with a tiny little kick to it, this soup is great as a starter for a celebration meal or on its own for a casual and cozy dinner. As with anything in life, it’s best shared with loved ones and friends even though you might be tempted to hoard it all for yourself. Fair warning.

Picking Crab

A bowl of hot crab soup, a piece of bread and a crackling fire. It’s good to be home and take a breather before the next adventure.

Crab Soup

P.S: Congratulations to Karin Alisa Houben and Kathy from Foodiebia – each winners of a copy of Food Heroes by Georgia Pelligrini. Send me your addresses at mytartelette {at} gmail {dot} com so that Georgia’s publisher can get those out to you pronto!

Crab Soup, adapted from Cooking Light 2003.

Notes: If you get the chance to get fresh crabs, just cook them in a pot of lightly salted boiling water for about 8 minutes per crab. To pick a crab, this video is really easy to follow.

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped carrot
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon herbes de Provence
1 bay leaf
4 cups water
1/4 cup cornstarch (or arrowroot) dissolved in 1/4 cup water
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 pound lump crab meat
2 tablespoons Cognac

Melt the butter with the olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the carrot and the next 5 ingredients (through jalapeno), and sautรฉ 5 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Add salt, black pepper, herbes de Provence, and bay leaf. Cook for 1 minute. Stir in the water, and cornstarch/water mixture and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until slightly thick, stirring frequently.
Stir in the milk and cream and cook 5 minutes. Stir in crabmeat and cognac cook 5 minutes or until the soup is thoroughly heated. Serve.

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Lauren @ Crave. Indulge. Satisfy. November 9, 2010 um 3:54 am

Would love to have a bowl of this right now! Those pictures of the crabs are beautiful! Living so close to the water is a treat for fresh seafood. My husband and I live in Mobile, AL and he goes grabbing all the time, there is nothing better than fresh crab meat!

Taylor November 9, 2010 um 4:08 am

Love it! Another great post. Bailey looks so happy!

gfs November 9, 2010 um 4:11 am

WOw look at the blue colour of that crab! I've only seen murky brown, orange and blackish ones here in WA.
Sounds like a delicious soup, one I'd try if I were ever to visit the states again!

Karen from Globetrotter Diaries November 9, 2010 um 6:41 am

Wow! Wish I could get my meal straight from the sea– can only imagine how yummy it is!

Amber November 9, 2010 um 8:01 am

I love crab! Lovely photos.

New Kitch on the Blog November 9, 2010 um 9:40 am

This makes me want to live close to the water! But in this area of germany where I live we only have a river which is grey, cold and uncomfortable. But thank god I have your beautiful pictures to look at! ๐Ÿ™‚

365 sonrisas November 9, 2010 um 10:25 am

Simple and fantastic story. Kind regards,


shaz November 9, 2010 um 11:17 am

How wonderful to be able to get such fresh crabs! I love that photo of the one with the pincers out ๐Ÿ™‚

My Little Expat Kitchen November 9, 2010 um 11:42 am

The color of that crab (while still alive) is wonderful. Cooked though is a great treat for the taste buds! I bet that soup was super tasty.

Jessica @ How Sweet November 9, 2010 um 11:56 am

The photos of the crab are incredible! I love crab and any seafood.

Maggie Hewes Adams November 9, 2010 um 12:56 pm

Oh yum! You're so making me wish I were at DeBordieu (South Carolina) where we catch blue crabs. We'll spend hours sitting at that table picking and eating and picking and eating and then just picking when we're full, talking about what to make the next day with our picked crab. The soup looks incredibly yummy!

Arudhi November 9, 2010 um 1:30 pm

oh…if only I could ignore the fact that I`m alergic to crab (sad!), I would just go get them at the store right away!
lovely pictures, by the way ๐Ÿ™‚

Yue Jiang November 9, 2010 um 2:05 pm

is there anything better than catch the crab and eat it too? your life looks so much fun!! maybe this is the privilege to be a freelancer?

Anna November 9, 2010 um 2:10 pm

Beautiful! I recently moved from the east coast to the midwest. I really miss the ocean — that photo of the blue water made me think about the rhythm of the waves, just watching them swell up and down. Your photos are fabulous.

Ana November 9, 2010 um 2:14 pm

Deliciosa esta crema de necoras!!! El colorido de las fotos espectacular, como siempre.
Las fotos de los cangrejos son simpatiquisimas, que suerte poder pescar lo que comes, nosotros vivimos muy lejos del mar, y los pescados y mariscos fresco de vuena calidad son muy caros.
Espero poder hacer tu receta pronto.
Un beso

Amanda Hawkins November 9, 2010 um 4:37 pm

These photos are lovely! And crap soup…such a temptation for an inland dweller. Thanks!

Unknown November 9, 2010 um 4:46 pm

I used to say the same thing to my MIL, my husband is from Maryland and we have enjoyed the bounty from the Chesapeake Bay for many years. We still own a cottage there and August is crab running season…delightful blog and recipe!

Shaina November 9, 2010 um 5:46 pm

This looks amazing, Helene. I love the little crab on the dock, and I could go for a bowl of crab soup right now. It looks perfect.

Amanda Lee November 9, 2010 um 6:24 pm

Your photos are always amazing and makes me just wanna grab my camera and do something! ๐Ÿ™‚ This post reminds me of my childhood when fishes bought from the market could actually still swim when you get home.

Gypsy Eyes Jewelry November 9, 2010 um 6:44 pm

Once again you have set my eyes twinkling, mouth salivating and mind wandering.
I can't tell you how thoroughly I savor each new episode. Your exquisite imagery, warm storytelling and enticing recipes take me on wonderful sensory journeys. Thank you for sharing all of this beauty and wonderment.
Now the gravy at the bottom of the bowl (you know, that luscious bit that you simply must tear another piece of bread off to sop it up): I unabashedly admit to doing a whoop and jump for joy when I spotted my name as winner of your current give-away!
I so look forward to sinking my teeth into Food Heros!
Many Thanks!!!

Andi of My Beautiful Adventures November 9, 2010 um 8:30 pm

Wow, you are so so so lucky to live that close to the water!!!

ThinkLoveSleepEat November 9, 2010 um 9:38 pm

Oh wow! I'm painfully envious of where you live. The water, warm temps, fresh seafood…it all makes me swoon. And that soup looks incredible!

Wenderly November 9, 2010 um 10:17 pm

Oh heavens am I jealous. That looks splendid from beginning to end! Thanks for letting me live vicariously through you.

Steffen November 9, 2010 um 11:09 pm

This site is just awesome,
you create such beautiful and artificial photos, I can`t get my eyes away of those nice and perfect pics. I love that style.

sanju November 9, 2010 um 11:36 pm


I don't eat seafood but your pictures are amazing.

Amanda November 10, 2010 um 2:44 am

I don't eat seafood while I'm at home in north Texas (I have issues with the freshness available), but the soup looks delicious. I'm going to the Atlantic coast next summer and I'll have to try crab soup when I'm there.

Alice from Northeast Locavore November 10, 2010 um 3:30 am

Beautiful post! Your photography is spectacular. Thanks for sharing.

The InTolerant Chef โ„ข November 10, 2010 um 4:18 am

How lucky you are! This recipe looks so delicious, Yumm…

Scarletta November 10, 2010 um 4:45 am

You are making me miss my East Coast roots! Thank you for posting – I truely appreciate your appreciation for the sea.

Spicy Green Mango November 10, 2010 um 9:17 am

Simply amazing and hearty just staring at this! Love the vibrancy of the freshly caught crab!

Scarlett November 10, 2010 um 1:05 pm

Wow-beautiful and such a cute dog!

Lori November 10, 2010 um 1:11 pm

Hmmmm. Hello Mr Bluecrab- you are looking mighty fine.

I actually have a bag of shells and such in my freezer. I think I need to make stock this week.

Scarletta November 10, 2010 um 3:20 pm

This soup, and your 'backyard', are gorgeous!

You are making me miss the East Coast as well!

Bertha November 10, 2010 um 4:16 pm

You live in such beautiful place, which i though only exists in movies :). You are so lucky to be able to get fresh seafood from its source, envy in all sorts of way ๐Ÿ™‚

Lan November 10, 2010 um 7:31 pm

Beautiful pictures! now I am craving steamed crab legs with salt, pepper, and lemon.

Anonymous November 10, 2010 um 9:09 pm

I love these photos ๐Ÿ™‚

Melissa November 11, 2010 um 2:30 am

I think this is one of my favourite posts by you – such beautiful images (as usual!)
I live by the Pacific and you are so right that the world by the sea does indeed move at a different pace. Winter is my favourite time to be by the sea. Thanks for this.

girl paraphernalia November 11, 2010 um 7:24 am

This is how I Remember it as a child, are you on the east coast of the U.S.?

Libby November 11, 2010 um 8:19 am

Oh, this post has made me so sad for my poor Gulf Coast. We used to be able to enjoy fresh fish from the ocean (even if we didn't catch it ourselves.) Now…the fishing has started again, but the catch is, well, oily. I don't think it will ever be the same again.

Still, I really enjoy reading a non dessert post from you!

jaz@octoberfarm November 11, 2010 um 1:50 pm

i am going to put my recipe for crab bisque shortly here if you want to have a look. yours look very yummy!

Anonymous November 11, 2010 um 4:11 pm

I love your photography!

A Bowl Of Mush November 11, 2010 um 4:27 pm

Such a delicious looking crab soup.

I love the pictures ๐Ÿ™‚

jenious November 11, 2010 um 8:21 pm

Gorgeous photos! The crab's shell is so vibrant – I never knew…

I'm slowly learning about living near the sea, as we visit the Cape Cod area every weekend. Your impressions are spot on. I look forward to savoring this lifestyle full-time. Cheers!

Kendra @ My First Kitchen November 11, 2010 um 10:28 pm

I've never commented before (crazy me), but I just love your blog. Love your photos. Love your spirit. I'm stoked about your food styling book and have already decided that I'm buying it for myself this Christmas. So thanks for doing what you do and for encouraging the rest of us to be creative. You have a real gift!

Helene November 11, 2010 um 11:51 pm

Kendra: it's not a food styling book. There will be styling in it but the majority of the book is on light, natural light and artificial lighting and how to utilize it wherever you are.

Jujube November 12, 2010 um 4:46 pm

Love your photos.
The crabs on the newspaper is brilliant.

Joy November 13, 2010 um 5:16 am

These pictures are absolutely GORGEOUS. I love the blues in the ocean and the crabs. It looks like such a wonderful place. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you for sharing!

marla {family fresh cooking} November 14, 2010 um 11:56 pm

I feel like I know you that much better now that I have had a glimpse at Bill & Bailey. Looks like such a fun outing. Those blue crabs are beautiful & the soup sounds delish! xo

marla {family fresh cooking} November 14, 2010 um 11:56 pm

I feel like I know you that much better now that I have had a glimpse at Bill & Bailey. Looks like such a fun outing. Those blue crabs are beautiful & the soup sounds delish! xo

Unknown November 16, 2010 um 3:31 am

stunning, the blue crab is such an amazing creature. well captured

rose January 9, 2011 um 6:00 am

Truly, some of your most inspirational, awe-inspiring, delight-making, simply stunning photos. EVER. Thanks for sharing beauty with the world.

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