Zack Mills, the executive chef of Wit & Wisdom at the Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore, says his parents often come into the restaurant for date nights.
And when his mom orders his popular Maryland crab soup, he gets a little nervous. After all, it’s based on her recipe.
“It was something that my mother did when I was growing up, so I’ve slightly adapted the recipe and we decided to kind of tweak it to make it more restaurant style,” Mills said. “The roots of it are still kind of the soup that I grew up with.”
Mills is from Davidsonville, near Annapolis, and says food and cooking were a big part of his upbringing. After graduating culinary school in 2007, he worked for Bourbon Steak at the Four Seasons Hotel in Washington, D.C. Bourbon is part of the Michael Mina restaurant group, which also operates Wit & Wisdom.
About two years ago, he became Wit & Wisdom’s executive chef and was able to include some of his favorite recipes on the menu -- like his Maryland crab soup.
And the soup is among their more popular dishes in summer, Mills said.
“When summer comes, our regulars will ask if it’s back on the menu yet.”
The full recipe is below, and you can watch the video above to see Mills put it all together.
Maryland Crab Soup
By Executive Chef Zack Mills
Serving Size: 8
- Tomato Juice- 4 ¼ Cups
- Roma Tomatoes- ½ Pound
- Chipotle Chilies- 1 teaspoon
- Thyme- ½ teaspoon
- Bay Leaf- 1 each
- Jalapeno, split with seeds in- 1 tablespoon
- Yukon Gold Potatoes- ¼ Pound
- Garlic Clove- 1 each
- Lemon Juice- 1 ½ teaspoons
- Old Bay- 1 teaspoon
- Salt- ½ teaspoon
- Shellfish or Fish Stock- 4 ¼ Cups
- Picked Jumbo Lump Crab Meat- 2 Cups
- Raw Corn Kernels- 2 Cups
- Pearl Onions, Split in half- 1 Cup
- Blanched English Peas- 1 ½ Cups
- Celery Leaves- 1 Cup
- Red Bell Peppers- 1 each
- Fresno Pepper- 1 each
- Zest and Juice of 1 Orange
- Egg Yolks- 1 each
- Juice of 1 Lemon
- Toasted Panko Bread Crumbs- 1/3 Cup
- Garlic Oil- ½ Cup
- Jumbo Lump Crab Meat- ½ Cup
- Chives- 1 Tablespoon
- Baguette, Cut to Toast Rounds
Method for Maryland Crab Soup:
- Split tomatoes in half, season with olive oil, salt and pepper and place cut-side-down on the grill until nicely charred
- Turn and cook on the skin side for about one minute and remove.
- In a pot over medium heat, add shellfish stock, tomato juice, charred tomatoes, jalapeno, diced potato and chipotles
- Tie up the bay leaf and thyme in cheese cloth and add to the pot
- Bring soup to a simmer and cook for about 45 minutes until reduced by 1/3 and potatoes are fully cooked
- Remove cheese cloth from soup and transfer the soup mix to a blender and blend in batches until smooth.
- Season with lemon juice and Old Bay
- Place back in the pot and add the garnish below and cook until warmed through.
- Serve with crab toast (recipe below)
Method for Crab Toast:
- Place bell and Fresno peppers on a burner or grill and char until skins are black.
- Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic to steam for 5 minutes.
- Peel and de-seed peppers.
- Add peppers to the food processor with all ingredients except for the garlic oil, crab meat and chives.
- Run processor and slowly drizzle in the oil until the mixture comes together.
- Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl and fold in crab meat and chives.
- Spread mixture on top of cut baguettes and place in a 400 degree oven for 5 minutes.
- Serve as garnish to the soup.