Coconut Crab Soup with Shrimp

5 from 1 vote

My recipe for crab soup isn’t just about the crab; I also include shrimp, peanut butter, and basil for irresistible Thai-inspired flavors. Altogether, it takes just 30 minutes to make 4 satisfying, heaping servings of this creamy coconut crab soup!

overhead closeup: a blue bowl of crab soup with Thai basil on top

This soothing, flavorful crab soup is a harmony of sweet, nutty, spicy, and savory flavors. The succulent crab and shrimp meat soak up the spicy broth, toning down their natural sweetness, while the thick, nutty broth coats your palate and ensures no sip is too spicy to keep you going back for that next spoonful. 

While some soups can get a little boring, the variety in this coconut crab soup makes it anything but!

overhead closeup: a blue bowl full of coconut crab soup with basil on top

Once you’re finished scraping the bottom of your bowl for every last drop, you’ll be asking, “What else can I make with coconut milk?” Try roasted coconut milk chicken or any number of curries: panang curry and yellow shrimp curry are two sweet and spicy Thai recipes that are a lot like this one.

overhead: crab and shrimp for crab soup in a bowl and on parchment paper

Tip From Kevin

Fresh or frozen crab meat

I typically get my crab meat in one pound containers from Costco or you can even get it frozen. When there is a deal on fresh crab it’s another story as you will need to remove the meat from the shells. To extract crab meat from legs and claws, start by twisting them off the body. Crack them open using a crab cracker or mallet. Gently pick out the meat with a fork or your fingers, being careful to avoid shell fragments.

overhead: cooking jalapenos for coconut crab soup

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions

  • Seafood – I use a combination of crab meat and medium shrimp. Be sure each is thoroughly thawed, shell-free, and drained of excess water.
  • Chicken Stock Feel free to substitute with vegetable or mushroom broth.
  • Coconut Milk – Nut-based milks such as soy, almond, or cashew are the best substitutes but do not offer the same thickness. See the FAQ section below to learn how to thicken the broth in this case! 
  • Thai Basil – Chop it up fresh to release its fresh, peppery taste over the heavy coconut crab soup. 
  • Lemongrass Paste You can substitute fresh lemongrass stalks at a 1:1 ratio of stalk to paste. Smash the bulb ends with a knife, trim the top ends from the stalk, and chop in half. 
  • Jalapeño – For a milder flavor, the jalapeño can be omitted. 
  • Chunky Peanut Butter You can also use creamy, though you’ll lose the texture of the peanuts!
  • Chili Paste I always use Sambal Oelek chili paste unless I want some really bold, in-your-face heat — that’s when I break out my Moroccan harissa paste!
  • Fish Sauce – This ingredient can be substituted with a combination of soy sauce and rice vinegar. 
  • Water Chestnuts Sweet and nutty water chestnuts are perfect for bulking Thai soups with coconut milk and peanuts. And I just love their crunch!
overhead closeup: a blue bowl full of crab soup with Thai basil on top

How to Make Crab Soup

  1. Prepare the Seafood. Shell and de-vein the shrimp, rinsing and draining to remove any lingering debris. Remove any excess water from the thawed crab meat. Set both aside.
  2. Simmer the Broth. Pour the chicken broth into a stock pot and simmer over medium heat. Once warmed, add the lemongrass paste and jalapeño. Increase the heat. Once a rolling boil is achieved, reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the jalapeño from the broth and discard it. (If you used lemongrass stalks rather than paste, remove them at this point as well). 
  3. Continue Building the Broth. Add the coconut milk, fish sauce, peanut butter, and chili paste to the pot. Stir thoroughly until the soup is well blended. 
  4. Add the Seafood & Water Chestnuts. Add the crab, shrimp, and drained water chestnuts to the pot, stir, and cook for 5 minutes until all are warmed through. 
  5. Top & Serve. Spoon the warm crab soup into bowls and top with the fresh Thai basil.
  • Whisk – Use a whisk to thoroughly incorporate several thick, creamy ingredients into your richest soups and stews. 
  • Stock Pot A sturdy stock pot is great for batches large and small and will last you for years. Not to mention they’re easy to clean and maintain!

Storing and Reheating

Coconut crab soup can be stored for up to 4 days in the refrigerator. Allow to cool before transferring to an airtight container.

Reheat on the stovetop on low heat, stirring often, until warmed through. Keep the heat low so that the coconut milk does not separate.

extreme closeup: coconut crab soup with a shrimp

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the best way to thicken crab soup?

I prefer this thin broth soup as it is, but if you like it thicker… a cornstarch slurry is the best method for thickening broth without mellowing the flavor with a ton of flour.

Do not add the cornstarch right to the hot broth! It will clump and gelatinize in the hot liquid and will do nothing to thicken it. 

Make a slurry of equal parts water and cornstarch (start with just 2 tablespoons of each) and stir it in along with the seafood.

Do you taste coconut milk in soup?

Rest assured that coconut milk does not add a strong coconut flavor to soups. It is nutty, to be sure, but not fruity and woody like coconut water or coconut itself.

Can you freeze soups with coconut milk?

Unlike stews made with heavy cream or whole milk, this crab soup is prepared with non-dairy coconut milk. It also does not make up the majority of the broth. As a result, it freezes more effectively than many creamy stews on the market.

Coconut milk still contains saturated fats, so it has a risk of separating when thawed. To reduce this risk, thaw very gradually. Allow it to thaw in the refrigerator overnight and then reheat slowly on the stovetop, stirring often.

closeup: a spoonful of crab soup with shrimp and crab showing

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Coconut Crab Soup with Shrimp

5 from 1 vote
This Thai-inspired crab soup has a lemon grass, peanut butter coconut milk broth with chiles and is loaded with basil, shrimp and crab meat.
Servings: 4
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 30 minutes


  • 1 lb crab meat thawed
  • 1 lb medium shrimp deveined
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp lemon grass paste (See Note 1)
  • 1 jalapeño sliced lengthwise
  • 14 oz can coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup chunky peanut butter
  • 3 tbsp chili paste
  • 2 tsp fish sauce
  • 8 oz sliced water chestnuts drained
  • 20 leaves basil Thai preferred


  • Remove any shells from shrimp, rinse and drain. Drain excess water from thawed or fresh crab meat. Set aside.
  • Heat chicken stock in a stock pot over medium heat. Add the lemon grass paste and jalapeno. Bring to a boil, lower heat to simmer and cook 15 minutes. Discard jalapeno.
  • Add the coconut milk, peanut butter, chili paste and fish sauce. Stir to incorporate.
  • Add the seafood and water chestnuts to the pot and cook on low for another 5 minutes until heated through and serve topped with basil.



  1. If you prefer to use fresh lemon grass stalks: its a 1:1 ratio, for every tablespoon of lemon grass paste use 1 lemon grass stalk. With the side of your knife smash the bulb ends of the lemon grass. Trim the top ends off and chop each stalk in half.


Calories: 647kcal | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 50g | Fat: 26.9g | Saturated Fat: 7.9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5.7g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11.2g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 198mg | Sodium: 2271mg | Potassium: 1184mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 433IU | Vitamin C: 19mg | Calcium: 157mg | Iron: 5mg

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

Course: soups
Cuisine: Thai
Author: Kevin
Have You Made This Recipe? Let Me Know on InstagramTag @keviniscooking or tag me #keviniscooking!
titled image (and shown): coconut crab soup


I was bitten by the cooking bug as a kid cooking and baking along side my mom. After an ROP restaurant course in high school, I went to work in restaurants and catering. My love of travel and food has led me across the world and I love to share those foods with family and friends.

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    1. It’s in the refrigerator section where the seafood is in a 1 pound plastic container. It is not frozen, but you could use – thawed of course.