It’s famous Charleston tour guide fake-lore:
“Charleston Mayor Goodwin Rhett is said to be entertaining President William Howard Taft. He instructs his Butler, William Deas, to do something special. Deas uses a Scottish cream of crab soup (rich but bland) but dresses it with additional lump crab, a drizzle of sherry and the grated roe of the female crab to invent the iconic She Crab Soup at the Mayor’s house, now the John Rutledge Inn.
So it can truthfully be said that Charleston’s iconic she crab soup was invented by Rhett’s Butler!”
Deas himself was a fascinating figure. I’ve written about him before and most certainly will again. In due course he goes on to become the Chef at the Everett’s Restaurant (famous for William’s soup but also for an apparently potty mouthed Mynah bird) for many years.
Telling too as a document of our own as William’s earlier renditions were thickened with a scant amount of flour. John Martin Taylor suggests some of the earliest renditions were ctually thickened with rice and I believe him- he is the “O.G.” Hoppin’ John! Here, later in the 20th Century, he is using corn starch.
1 medium onion, chopped
1 lb. white crab meat
1 qt. & 1 pt. milk
1 stick butter, divided
Worcestershire sauce, to taste
Salt, to taste
1 tsp. cornstarch
¼ lb. crab roe, chopped
½ cup sherry wine
Paprika, for garnish
Saute onion over low fire in half of the butter until soft but not brown. Add the crab meat and heat.
Heat the milk in the top of a double boiler, but do not boil. Add the crab meat mixture and the rest of the butter to the hot milk. Season to taste with Worchestershire Sauce and sprinkle with salt.
Pour a little of the milk in a cup and thicken with cornstarch, then pour into soup to thicken. Add crab roe and sherry wine. Stir together well, sprinkle a little paprika on each serving. Serve piping hot.
(I recently purchased an old menu from Everett’s via ebay- I’ll try to get an image loaded.)
- Category: Soups
- Cuisine: Lowcountry
Keywords: She Crab Soup, William Deas, Undiscovered Charleston, Hoppin' John, Everett's Restaurant, Best Charleston Food Tour, Charleston Food History,