Crab Shell Chowder – By Anthony Davies

Have you ever wished you could do something with all that yummy flavour left behind in the shell scraps after you’ve eaten a crab? I certainly have , which is why I came up with this easy recipe for a crab shell based chowder that’s great for the cooler months. Picked crab shells will keep just fine bagged in the freezer until you need them.

Saute the onion, celery and garlic, don't let it colour!

Saute the onion, celery and garlic, don’t let it colour!


Leftover shell fragments from one decent muddy or a couple of sand crabs, excluding the yucky top shell or carapace, the guts and the “dead man’s fingers” or gills.

2 cups water.

Medium onion and 2 stalks celery, finely chopped.

4 cloves garlic, crushed.

Olive oil for frying.

2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 2cm dice.

300 g white fish, cut into bite size chunks.

8 large prawns, peeled and deveined with the tail left on. Reserve the heads and shells.

A dozen mussels, shelled and de-bearded. Scallops, clams or pippies would also be fine, adjusting the quantity for the size of the shellfish.

Handful of parsley, coarsely chopped.

3/4 cup cream or coconut cream.

Chopped chives for garnish.

Add the fish and shellfish.

Add the fish and shellfish.


Bring 2 cups of water to the boil in a medium saucepan. Add the crab shell fragments and the prawn heads and shells. Reduce to a low simmer, cover and cook for 30 minutes. Strain the liquid into a bowl and cover.

Tip the shell scraps into the sink and allow to cool. They will still make great berley if you want to bag and freeze them for your next bait fishing trip. Rinse out the saucepan and wipe dry. Return the saucepan to a medium heat and add a generous slosh of olive oil.

Add the chopped onion and celery and saute for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for a minute or so, do not allow the garlic to colour.

Tip the crab shell stock back into the saucepan and bring back to the boil. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, until the celery is tender.

Add the diced potato, return to the boil and simmer for another 10 minutes. Add the parsley, prawns, fish and shellfish and bring back to the boil, stirring gently until all the seafood is cooked through; about 5 minutes. Stir in the cream and leave on the heat until almost simmering, do not boil.

Serve in soup bowls with crusty bread, allowing 2 prawns per person for four servings . Sprinkle a pinch of chives over each bowl. The salty shellfish usually makes this dish flavoursome enough, diners can add a little salt, pepper or lemon juice to taste.

Simple ingredients for a tasty chowder.

Simple ingredients for a tasty chowder.