Sup Mang Cua – Crab Meat & Asparagus Soup

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Soup Mang Cua 1

We’re having a pretty cold winter this year, and when it’s cold outside, it’s great to warm up with different types of soup.   This week’s Mom’s 52 recipe is for the most traditional, no-carb (no noodles or rice) Vietnamese soup I can think of:  Sup Mang Cua – Crab Meat & Asparagus Soup.

If you’ve ever attended a traditional Vietnamese wedding, you’ve likely had Sup Mang Cua, probably as the first course of a parade of courses.  Crab meat and asparagus may seem like a strange combination, but the asparagus in this dish is white asparagus, which is much more mildly flavored than traditional, green asparagus.  Variations of this recipe could involve adding whole quail eggs or chewy fish maw.

Sup Mang Cua – Crab Meat & Asparagus Soup

INGREDIENTS – makes 6 servings:

  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped garlic
  • 8 oz. crab meat, drained (use lump for chunkier soup, or claw for more crab pieces throughout)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper
  • 4 C. chicken broth/stock
  • 1 C. water
  • 1.5 Tbsp. nuoc mam (fish sauce)
  • 4 tsp. sugar
  • 2 C. (about one 17 oz. can, drained) of white asparagus, chopped into bite-sized 1/2″ pieces
  • 3 egg whites
  • 2 Tbsp. cornstarch
White asparagus, for Sup Mang Cua, can be found in most Vietnamese or Chinese markets.
White asparagus, for Sup Mang Cua, can be found in most Vietnamese or Chinese markets.



  1. In a large saucepan, heat 1 Tbsp. EVOO on high heat.
  2. Add the chopped garlic to the pan and saute a few seconds to bring out the fragrance of the garlic.
  3. Add the drained crab meat, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/8 tsp. pepper.  Stir, and continue to saute to dry out the crab meat, about 3-5 minutes.

    Saute the seasoned crab meat for a few minutes for Sup Mang Cua.
    Saute the seasoned crab meat for a few minutes for Sup Mang Cua.



  1. Add to the sauteed crab meat 4 C. chicken broth, 1 C. water, 1.5 Tbsp. nuoc mam, 4 tsp. sugar, and the white asparagus pieces.  Mix gently to combine.
  2. Bring the broth to a boil, skimming any scum that surfaces.  Once boiling, turn the heat down to medium.
  3. Scoop out 1/4 C. of the broth and set aside to cool.  This will be used in Step 4 below.



  1. Place 3 egg whites into a glass measuring cup or other dish with a spout.  Gently beat the egg whites.
  2. Use a ladle to stir the Sup Mang Cua broth in a clockwise direction, creating a vortex.  Continue stirring to maintain the vortex, and use your other hand to slowly pour the egg whites into the soup in a steady, thin stream.  This will yield delicate, white, egg ribbons in the Sup Mang Cua, similar to those found in Chinese egg drop soup.



  1. Turn your attention back to the 1/4 C. of Sup Mang Cua broth you set aside above in Step 2. Make sure this portion of broth is cool before proceeding.
  2. Add 2 Tbsp. cornstarch to the 1/4 C. of cooled broth.  Mix well to combine.
  3. Add the cornstarch mixture back to the pot of Sup Mang Cua, and mix well.  Bring the Sup Mang Cua back to a boil, and it will thicken.  If you like your soup thicker in consistency, repeat these steps, making sure to only use the Sup Mang Cua broth, not water.  Water will dilute the flavor of your soup.

Serve Sup Mang Cua with pepper as garnish.  Enjoy!

Was this Mom’s 52 recipe helpful?  Do you have any questions about this recipe?  Please post your comments below.  If I don’t know the answer, I’ll send your question to Mom! 

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