Looking for a unique chili that’s sure to please, then you must try this creamy White crab Chili. Big crab flavor with white beans, fresh corn and a slight jalapeño kick. If you love cream of crab soup you will be quite pleased with this amped up Chesapeake crustacean creation.
I have always loved white chicken chili so as a Marylander I obviously had to create a white crab chili recipe. The flavor profiles are similar to its chicken counterparts but instead of chili powder and paprika I used Old Bay as my base seasoning. Old bay is an incredibly versatile seasoning that is synonymous with seafood but also pairs great with a variety of dishes. Corn is something that is commonly seasoned with old bay especially in the mid Atlantic area so combining corn, crab and old bay was a no brainer.
When I make Maryland crab soup I prefer to use a combination of claw and backfin crabmeat. I think that jumbo lump is just a waist because the lumps will just get broken up in the soup. Cream of crab is different because most of the time the crab is added to each individual bowl and the lumps remain in tact. For this creamy white chili I went with the claw/backfin combo because I wanted the crab stirred throughout the chili. If you happen to have jumbo lump feel free to garnish with a few lumps on top. I chose to just varnish with a few large claw pieces on top and I feel that worked out just fine.
You can really use any beans you like for this white crab chili recipe. I used Cannellini and pinto beans because they have a creamy texture and are lighter in color. Butter beans, chickpeas or navy beans would also be great options. I try to stay away from the darker beans like kidney and black beans only because I wouldn't want them to discolor the White chili.
I personally love nothing more than fresh corn shaved right off the cob. If it’s not available you can substitute frozen corn but I would try to avoid canned corn. Cans corn just has a mushy texture and is brined in a solution that can affect the flavor of your chili. If possible I always keep an eye out for roadside produce stands selling fresh local corn. It’s definitely an ingredient that can boost the flavor of the dish by using fresh corn. I not only sauté the corn in the dish but if I have fresh corn I shave some extra off the cob to garnish on top.
When it comes to the heat level of chili you definitely have two different camps. Some want chili so hot you’ll shed a tear while others prefer a subtle kick. I find that subtle is best for white chili so I let the heat come from the fresh diced jalapeño. To reduce the heat even further remove the seeds from the jalapeño. I always serve my chili with extra sliced jalapeño as well as a variety of hot sauces that can be used at your discretion
One of the biggest mistakes I see when making any cream based soup is to have the heat too high on the burner. For this recipe you should never raise the heat above medium. Most of the cooking process should be done over medium low heat and at no point should this crab chili come to a boil. If it does you run the risk of the soup breaking or burning the bottom of the pot leaving a bitter burnt flavor. Use a wooden spoon and stir frequently. You are not trying to caramelize your veggies so go slow and gently soften the peppers and onions just until opaque.
Once it’s time to add the cream you will slowly warm it up just below a simmer and then add your cornstarch slurry. Be sure to mix the cornstarch with water or you’ll have clumps in the chili. After the chili has thickened you can gently fold in the beans and crab. They only need to be warmed through because the crab and beans are already cooked. Reserve just a bit of extra crab to garnish on top of the chili.