Sup Mang Cua (Vietnamese Crab and Asparagus Soup)

By: takestwoeggsPosted: 26/09/2023 Updated: 28/11/2023
Prep 15 minutes
Cook 2 hours 15 minutes
Total 2 hours 30 minutes
Súp măng cua or Vietnamese crab and asparagus soup is a delicious, comforting yet elegant egg drop soup that is most commonly served at large banquet style events.
Sup Mang Cua (Vietnamese Crab and Asparagus Soup)

Sup Mang Cua or Vietnamese crab and asparagus soup is a delicious, comforting yet elegant egg drop soup that is most commonly served at large banquet-style events.

Someone setting down a bowl of Vietnamese crab and asparagus soup.

Súp Măng Cua or Vietnamese crab and asparagus soup is an iconic soup dish that features a homemade rich and flavorful pork broth, white asparagus, crab meat, eggs, and quail eggs. This traditional Vietnamese crab soup is most commonly served at large family events such as weddings or during the Lunar New Year (tet).

This is my mom’s iconic authentic Vietnamese sup mang cua recipe. She would make this delicious, warm, and comforting soup during the colder months for all of our family parties. It is one of my favorite Vietnamese soups! If you are looking for more authentic Vietnamese recipes, check out our bun rieu (Vietnamese crab and tomato soup), Pho ga (Vietnamese chicken noodle soup), and Bun Bo Hue (Vietnamese spicy beef soup).

Looking down at a bowl of sup mang cua garnished with cilantro and green onion.

What is súp măng cua?

Súp măng cua is a Vietnamese crab and asparagus soup that features crab meat, white asparagus, quail eggs, and a fragrant broth made from chicken or pork bones. It is served with a sprinkle of white pepper on top and garnished with diced green onions and cilantro.

Súp măng cua can also vary by region in Vietnam with slight ingredient variations or seasonings. Sometimes the white asparagus is omitted from the soup and instead, the soup is called súp cua. This is one of the most popular dishes that is served at almost every Vietnamese wedding.

Someone holding up a spoon of Vietnamese crab and asparagus soup.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Here are the top three reasons why you’ll love sup mang cua:

  1. Delicious Umami Flavors: Súp măng cua is known for its delicate and nuanced flavors from the umami-rich broth to the sweetness of crabmeat and earthy taste of asparagus.
  2. Versatility: this sup mang cua recipe is very versatile and can be easily customized to suit your preferences. I’ve listed some suggestions for substitutions and additions below.
  3. Perfect for Large Parties: if you are looking for a crowd-pleasing appetizer for your next gathering, this Vietnamese crab and asparagus soup will be an instant hit.
A close up shot of a spoonful of sup mang cua and and a quail egg.

Kitchen Equipment

You will need the following items of kitchen equipment to make this Vietnamese crab and asparagus soup.

  • 7-quart pot: You will need a 7-quart pot or larger for this sup mang cua recipe.
  • Skimmer Spoon: you will need a skimmer spoon to skim the scum off the top of the broth.
  • Spider strainer: a spider strainer is a helpful tool for scooping out the pork bones and leeks from the pot.
  • Mixing bowls: mixing bowls will be needed to whisk the eggs and create the potato starch slurry.

Ingredients

You can find all of the ingredients for this súp măng cua recipe at your local Vietnamese or Chinese grocery market. I’ve also listed all of the ingredients you can find online below.

Homemade Pork Broth

  • Pork Bones: when you go to any Asian grocery store, you will notice in the meat section that there are random-sized shapes of pork bones. These are cut primarily to be made for soups and then discarded.
  • Leeks: leeks add a mildly sweet flavor to the Vietnamese crab and asparagus soup.
  • Chicken Bouillon Powder: Chicken bouillon powder adds more umami flavoring to the soup. This is what makes the broth taste so good.
  • Salt: a touch of salt adds more seasoning to the broth.
  • Palm Sugar: palm sugar gently sweetens the súp mang cua and is a popular ingredient in Vietnamese cuisine.
  • Chicken Broth: added chicken broth enhances the flavor of the pork broth. Alternatively, you can use water instead.
  • Fish Sauce: fish sauce adds the final touches of umami flavor to the sup mang cua. You will need to adjust the amount of fish sauce to taste.
All the ingredients for making homemade pork broth.

Crab and Asparagus Soup

  • Canned White Asparagus: white asparagus is simply green asparagus that hasn’t turned green yet by the sun. It has a milder flavor and is much softer than green asparagus. Canned white asparagus is readily available in Asian grocery stores.
  • Crab Meat: the best crab meat option is from Costco in one of the refrigerated aisles. The crab meat tastes fresh, comes in large chunks, and is at a reasonable price point.
  • Canned Quail Eggs: canned quail eggs are the easiest and most convenient option. You can alternatively buy fresh quail eggs and boil them at home.
  • Large Egg Whites + 1 Egg Yolk: the combination of large egg whites and one egg yolk will create a lightly pale yellow ribbon of egg drop soup.
  • Potato Starch: potato starch mixed with water creates a potato starch slurry that will thicken the asparagus and crab soup.
All the ingredients for making sup mang cua.

Optional Additions

  • Dried White Snow Fungus (optional): dried white snow fungus is an edible mushroom that is a popular ingredient in Chinese traditional medicine.
  • Dried Fish Maw (optional): dried fish maw is a delicacy that has no strong flavor and soaks in the flavors of other ingredients. It has a spongey and chewy texture.
Two packages of dried white fungus.

Substitutions and Additions

You can easily customize your asparagus and crab soup with the following substitutions and additions recommendations I’ve listed for you below.

Substitutions

  • Broth: instead of homemade pork broth, you can substitute it with store-bought chicken broth, beef bone broth, or vegetable broth for a vegetarian version.
  • Water: if you are making the pork broth and don’t have extra chicken broth, you can alternatively use water instead.
  • Fresh crab: if you have access and want to splurge on fresh crab, this would be the best option.
  • Artificial crab: for a more cost-effective version, you can shred it up and add in artificial crab instead.
  • Fresh asparagus: you can use fresh white or green asparagus, but it will be much more pungent in flavor than canned asparagus.
  • Fresh quail eggs: you can use fresh quail eggs and boil them at home instead of using canned ones.
  • Tapioca starch: instead of a potato starch slurry to thicken the Vietnamese crab soup, you can alternatively use tapioca starch.

Additions

  • Vegetables: you can turn this crab asparagus soup from an appetizer to a meal by adding more vegetables such as shiitake mushrooms, enoki mushrooms, carrots, corn, etc.
  • Chicken: for more protein, you can add shredded chicken to the Vietnamese crab soup.

How to Make Sup Mang Cua

Here are the step-by-step instructions on how to make this sup mang cua recipe. I recommend reading the instructions through once before you begin.

  1. Blanch the pork. In a large pot, fill the pot halfway and bring to a boil over high heat. Then add the washed pork bones and bring the water to a boil. Then drain the water and rinse off the pork bones.
Pork bones being blanched in a large pot on the stove.
  1. Make the broth. In a 7-quart stock pot, add the pork bones, leeks, and 24 cups of water (1.5 gallons), or enough to reach the brim of the pot leaving about 1 inch at the top. Bring to a boil over high heat and skim the scum off the top of the water. Then lower the heat to medium heat and add 2 tablespoons chicken bouillon powder, salt, and palm sugar and simmer uncovered for 2 hours. Then remove the bones and leeks and add in 2 cups of chicken stock.
Pork broth simmering in a large pot on the stove.
  1. Soak the white fungus and fish maw. In a large bowl, soak the white fungus and fish maw in hot water for about 10 minutes or until they open up and soften. Then cut into small 1-inch pieces. Remove the rough center from the white fungus.
  1. Prepare the asparagus. Remove the asparagus and slice it into 1-inch pieces. Save about 1/2 cup of asparagus canned juice.
White asparagus spears sliced in a bowl.
  1. Add crab, white fungus, fish maw, and asparagus. Add the crab with the juice from the can, cut white fungus, fish maw, and prepared asparagus and juice to the pot, and bring the soup to a boil over medium-high heat.
Crab, asparagus, and fungi added to a pot of pork broth.
  1. Add eggs and quail eggs. In a small bowl, whisk the egg whites and 1 egg yolk. When the soup reaches a boil, slowly pour the eggs into the soup while gently stirring to create egg ribbons in the soup. Then add the quail eggs.
  1. Thicken the soup. In a mixing bowl, mix together the potato starch and water until combined. Wait until the soup comes to a boil, then slowly pour in the potato starch slurry while mixing. This will thicken the soup. Add more if needed.
Thickening sup mang cua with a potato starch slurry.
  1. Season and serve. Add 2 tablespoons of fish sauce. Then taste and season with more chicken bouillon powder or fish sauce to taste. Serve in individual bowls, sprinkle with white pepper, and garnish with diced green onion and cilantro.
Looking down at a bowl of sup mang cua garnished with cilantro and green onion.

Tips for the Best Sup Mang Cua

  • Make homemade broth: nothing beats the depth of flavor that comes from a homemade pork broth. Yes, it is time-consuming but the final result is so much better than store-bought stock.
  • Fish maw and white fungus are optional. These are plus-up ingredients that will make the Vietnamese crab soup more filling and hearty. You can always eliminate these ingredients for a simpler sup mang cua recipe.
  • Reserve some canned asparagus juice: this may sound odd, but the canned asparagus soup gently sweetens the soup and gives it a richer white asparagus flavor.
  • Add more potato starch slurry as needed: if you’d like a thicker soup, continue adding more potato starch slurry 1 tablespoon at a time until your desired thickness.
  • Taste and adjust the seasonings: you will need to taste and adjust the crab and asparagus soup based on your preferences. If it is too bland, add another tablespoon of fish sauce, salt, or chicken bouillon powder. If it is too salty, add more water to dilute it.
  • Make ahead: you can always make this sup mang cua recipe in advance. Once the soup is cooked and has time for the flavors to blend together overnight, it yields the best results.

Storage Instructions

You can store this Vietnamese crab and asparagus soup in airtight jars or containers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Reheat: warm the sup cua on the stove in a pot until warm.

Frequently Asked Q’s & A’s

What are the key ingredients in súp măng cua?

This sup mang cua recipe is made with homemade pork broth, fresh crab meat, canned white asparagus, quail eggs, eggs, fish maw, and white fungus.

Can I use pre-made broth instead?

Yes! If you do not want to wait 2 hours for the pork broth, you can easily substitute it with chicken broth instead. You will have to taste and adjust the seasonings accordingly.

Can I use imitation crab in Vietnamese crab and asparagus soup?

While fresh or canned crabmeat is recommended, you can alternatively use imitation crabmeat as a more cost-effective alternative to asparagus and crab soup.

Can I make vegetarian sup mang cua?

Yes! You can make this crab and asparagus soup vegetarian by using vegetable broth and omitting the crab meat. Simply add tofu or mushrooms as a protein source instead.

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Sup Mang Cua (Vietnamese Crab and Asparagus Soup)

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 15 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Súp măng cua or Vietnamese crab and asparagus soup is a delicious, comforting yet elegant egg drop soup that is most commonly served at large banquet style events.
Servings: 20 servings
Print Recipe

Ingredients

Broth

  • 5 lbs pork bones washed
  • 24 cups water about 1.5 gallons of water
  • 3 leeks sliced in half vertically and washed, tied together
  • 2-3 tablespoons chicken bouillon powder to taste
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 palm sugar cubes
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2-3 tablespoon fish sauce to taste

Soup

  • 2 (500 g) cans white asparagus cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 (16 oz) can lump crab meat
  • 1 (15 oz) can quail eggs
  • 2 dried snow white fungus optional
  • 1 fish maw optional
  • 3 large eggs whites and 1 egg yolk

Potato Starch Slurry

  • ½ cup Potato starch
  • 1 cup water

Garnish

Instructions

  • Blanch the pork. In a large pot, fill the pot halfway and bring to a boil over high heat. Then add the washed pork bones and bring the water to a boil. Then drain the water and rinse off the pork bones.
  • Make the broth. In a 7-quart stock pot, add the pork bones, leeks, and 24 cups of water (1.5 gallons), or enough to reach the brim of the pot leaving about 1 inch at the top. Bring to a boil over high heat and skim the scum off the top of the water. Then lower the heat to medium heat and add 2 tablespoons chicken bouillon powder, salt, and palm sugar and simmer uncovered for 2 hours. Then remove the bones and leeks and add in 2 cups of chicken stock.
  • Soak the white fungus and fish maw. In a large bowl, soak the white fungus and fish maw in hot water for about 10 minutes or until they open up and soften. Then cut into small 1-inch pieces. Remove the rough center from the white fungus.
  • Prepare the asparagus. Remove the asparagus and slice it into 1-inch pieces. Save about 1/2 cup of asparagus canned juice.
  • Add crab, white fungus, fish maw, and asparagus. Add the crab with the juice from the can, cut white fungus, fish maw, and prepared asparagus and asparagus juice to the pot, and bring the soup to a boil over medium-high heat.
  • Add eggs and quail eggs. In a small bowl, whisk the egg whites and 1 egg yolk. When the soup reaches a boil, slowly pour the eggs into the soup while gently stirring to create egg ribbons in the soup. Then add the quail eggs.
  • Thicken the soup. In a mixing bowl, mix together the potato starch and water until combined. Wait until the soup comes to a boil, then slowly pour in the potato starch slurry while mixing. This will thicken the soup. Add more if needed.
  • Season and serve. Add 2 tablespoons of fish sauce. Then taste and season with more chicken bouillon powder or fish sauce to taste. Serve in individual bowls, sprinkle with white pepper, and garnish with diced green onion and cilantro. Enjoy immediately when hot.

Notes

  • Make homemade broth: nothing beats the depth of flavor that comes from a homemade pork broth. Yes it is time consuming but the final result is so much better than store-bought stock.
  • Fish maw and white fungus is optional. These are plus up ingredients that will make the Vietnamese crab soup more filling and hearty. You can always eliminate these ingredients for a simpler sup mang cua recipe.
  • Reserve some canned asparagus juice: this may sound odd, but the canned asparagus soup gently sweetens the soup and gives it a richer white asparagus flavor.
  • Add more potato starch slurry as needed: if you’d like a thicker soup, continue adding more potato starch slurry 1 tablespoon at a time until your desired thickness.
  • Taste and adjust the seasonings: you will need to taste and adjust the crab and asparagus soup based on your preferences. If it is too bland, add another tablespoon of fish sauce, salt or chicken bouillon powder. If it is too salty, add more water to dilute it.
  • Make ahead: you can always make this sup mang cua recipe in advance. Once the soup is cooked and has time for the flavors to blend together overnight, it yields the best results.
  • Storage Instructions: You can store this Vietnamese crab and asparagus soup in airtight jars or containers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Nutrition:

Calories: 30kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 0.2g | Saturated Fat: 0.05g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 4mg | Sodium: 504mg | Potassium: 86mg | Fiber: 0.5g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 226IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 23mg | Iron: 0.4mg

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