Local Dish: Charleston’s She-Crab Soup (NatGeo)

She-crab soup might not look like much. But the history of this bisque-chowder hybrid is as rich as that of the city from which it hails.

John Rutledge House
John Rutledge House

Before Charleston restaurants served up endless bowls of shrimp and stone-ground grits, John Martin Taylor—better known as Hoppin’ John, a nod to another beloved Southern staple—elevated South Carolina’s Lowcountry cuisine to high art with a scholarly cookbook in the early 1990s, digging up recipes thought to be lost long since the Civil War.

In Hoppin’ John’s Lowcountry Cooking, the author traced Charleston’s famous first course to its tartan roots, revealing she-crab soup to be a variation on partan bree—the result of an influx of Scottish immigrants to the region in America’s early years. “Scottish cookbooks, common among the inventories of the planter class, included recipes for the soup thickened with rice,” he told me via email.

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Continue reading this article on National Geographic Intelligent Travel blog, published February 27, 2015. 

 

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