Maryland Crab-less Soup
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 2 carrots, cubed
- 1 cup fresh or frozen lima beans
- 1 large Russet potato, diced diced
- 1 cup sliced cabbage
- 1 cup diced fresh or frozen diced green beans
- 1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
- 1 cup fresh or frozen peas
- 8 oz jarred hearts of palm, sliced into 1/4 inch half moons
- 28 ounces canned diced tomatoes
- 3 tablespoons Old Bay
- 4 cups vegetable stock or a little more, up to you
- Saute the onion, celery, and carrots until softened. Add the remaining ingredients.
- Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
- Stir and serve immediately.
- I know there are some concerns about hearts of palm but there are sustainable brands out there and they should be labeled as such.
- I also have made this with chicken stock. I do think it is a little richer with chicken stock but of course, that would make it not vegan or vegetarian.
I had come across some recipes that had you use hearts of palm to mimic seafood in lobster rolls or crab cakes. I have to say I was intrigued but was slightly less than convinced it would be as good as the original. But it got me thinking about what else could I make with hearts of palm. As is my process I sort of had it in the back of my mind for a few months and then it hit me that the obvious answer was soup. Now, I do love Maryland crab soup as we are required to do by law living in Baltimore City but let’s be real. It’s hard to find a ton of real pure crab flavor it in. My ritzy crabcakes really taste like crab because it is the star ingredient on a very short ingredient list. Crab soup has a lot going on. A huge part of what makes us think it tastes like crab is, to be perfectly honest, is a large amount of Old Bay. We can’t separate it out. That’s why when I make the traditional version of the soup, I use the cheaper and more flavorful claw meat than the lump we use in cakes and homemade crab stock. It’s good soup but I could totally see how you could make that soup without the crab and still have a very similar experience.
And you know what? I was right. I made this and the whole house smelled like Maryland Crab Soup. I dare anyone not to smell that soup and not think it had crab in it. The look was amazing. It looked like real crab soup. Hearts of palm shreds in exactly the same way crab does. You even end up with little lumps of just the very centers of the hearts of palm scattered about like you do with crab meat. The taste, I’m not going to lie, was very close. Not exactly the same as using real crab but really close. The texture and the appearance were there. The flavor was excellent. This soup has so much going on between the multitude of vegetables and the Old Bay I didn’t miss the crab at all honestly. It was a really satisfying soup. If I didn’t know it wasn’t crab and was sold it in a restaurant, I don’t think I’d be able to tell; I’d probably think it was maybe a little skimpy on the crabmeat because there were no obvious claw-shaped chunks but I would not be disappointed in any way. I know this doesn’t sound like high praise but it really is. If you are a vegetarian or vegan or want the taste of Maryland Crab Soup without the high cost, this is the soup for you. Make it while it’s still cold out.
A little note-
I often use frozen vegetables in Maryland crab soup because it is easier and cheaper than buying all these vegetables individually. It’s hard to get all of them in season at the same time too. Some stores sell frozen “soup mix” vegetables, feel free to use them here if it includes lima beans which I think are essential. If you are here in Maryland some stores carry a “Maryland Crab Soup” mix of frozen vegetables that even includes potatoes. I wouldn’t begrudge that at all. Personally, I like adding celery which the mix doesn’t have, fresh cabbage, and doing a little saute but we can be flexible two years into a pandemic.