How to chowder up the Chesapeake blue crab, with John Shields and Yolanda Johnson

Yolanda Johnson, soup chef at Gertrude’s in Baltimore, shares her Chesapeake Crab Chowder recipe. For the full recipe visit

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Roughly Speaking episode 436:

As the cook in charge of making crab soup every day at Gertrude's Chesapeake Kitchen in Baltimore, Yolanda Johnson is known as the Patapsco River Soup Queen. She makes classic crab soup and cream of crab soup. But what about crab chowder? New England has creamy clam chowder. Manhattan has its own version of clam chowder. Why not chowder up the Chesapeake blue crab?

John Shields, the owner of Gertrude's and author of books on regional cooking, challenged Yolanda Johnson to come up with crab chowder. The results were delicious, and you can get the recipe below. Remember: "Nothing takes the chill off like chowder."

John Shields' new book is, "The New Chesapeake Kitchen," from Johns Hopkins University Press.

Chesapeake Crab Chowder

(Serves 4 to 6)

1/2 stick butter, or 2 tablespoons butter & 2 tablespoons bacon grease

1 small onion, diced

3 stalks celery, diced about the same size as the onion

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

4 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cubed

2 cups crab or fish stock

3 cups heavy cream

1 teaspoon chopped thyme leaves

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 pound lump crabmeat, gently picked over for shells

Crumbled bacon bits, for garnish

Chopped flat leaf parsley, for garnish


In a four-quart saucepan, melt the butter or butter and bacon grease. Sauté the

onion and celery until both are slightly tender, about five minutes. Whisk in

the flour and cook for one minute. Add the potatoes, stock, cream, thyme and

bay leaf. Bring almost to a boil, reduce heat, and cook over medium heat

for about 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are very tender. Add the

crabmeat, salt, and pepper. Continue cooking for 5 minutes to heat the

crabmeat through.

Serve the chowder sprinkled with bacon bits and garnish with parsley.

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