Gumbo-Style Crab Soup with Okra and Tomatoes

This more delicate cousin of New Orleans gumbo is a spicier version of the crab soup Charleston is known for.


Slideshow: How To Make a Roux for Gumbo


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  • Servings: 10

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  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 large onions, finely chopped
  • 6 celery ribs, finely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon thyme leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • One 28-ounce can Italian plum tomatoes, drained and coarsely chopped, juices reserved
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 1/2 quarts fish stock or light chicken stock or 1 1/2 quarts bottled clam juice mixed with 1 quart water
  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh or thawed frozen okra, sliced crosswise 1/2 inch thick (6 cups)
  • 1 1/2 pounds lump crabmeat, picked over to remove cartilage
  • 1/2 cup chopped basil
  • Tabasco sauce

How to make this recipe

  1. In a large, heavy pot, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter. Add the onions and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the celery, bell pepper, garlic, thyme and crushed pepper. Season with salt and pepper and cook until the vegetables are softened, about 10 minutes. Add the wine and boil over moderately high heat until reduced to a syrup, about 1 minute. Add the tomato juices and bay leaves and boil until reduced by half, about 4 minutes. Add the stock, bring to a boil and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes.

  2. In a large skillet, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the okra, season with salt and pepper and cook over moderately high heat, stirring a few times, until browned, about 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Stir the okra and tomatoes into the soup and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes longer. Discard the bay leaves.

  3. Add the crabmeat to the soup and simmer until just heated through. Stir in the basil and season with salt, pepper and Tabasco. Ladle the soup into shallow bowls and serve.

Make Ahead

The soup can be prepared through Step 2 and refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Reheat gently before proceeding.

Contributed By Photo © Quentin Bacon Published November 2002

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