Chilled Fresh Pea Soup with Crab & Guacamole Salad

I've never really been a huge fan of chilled soups. I can't stand gazpacho, which always surprises people for some reason (it always just tastes like salsa to me!), and I prefer my vichyssoise hot.

Which is why it was weird that I ordered a chilled pea soup as my starter at dinner at the North Fork Table & Inn last week.

I had read a lot of amazing things about North Fork Table & Inn, and when Eugene arranged a little last-minute escape to the North Fork for the 4th of July, it was at the top of my list of places I wanted to try. We went there for dinner on Monday night, and it was my favorite meal the entire trip.  We chose the pre-fixe three-course menu (it's either that or a tasting menu, but I preferred the options on the pre-fixe menu). For some reason, the soup jumped out at me, and I ordered it, hoping that I wouldn't regret my decision.

I didn't. It was incredible.

The soup was ice cold and sweet, and a gorgeous shade of green that I want to paint on my walls, but it was really the garnishes in the center that made it for me. Oh man do I love garnishes!

Jumbo lump crab and diced avocados with sliced radishes floating in that silky, spring-like broth. The only thing wrong with it is that they were pretty skimpy with the garnishes.

So, as I'm wont to do, I got home and remade the soup, tripling the garnishes and piling them into a delicious little heap of crab salad set in the center of a delicately flavored soup--perfect for this ridiculous hot weather we've been having.

I should note that the soup can be a bit fussy to make. It's not hard at all--ridiculously easy, actually--but there are a few steps. It cooks up quickly, but then you have to puree and strain and then chill over an ice bath. And then when you serve a bowl to your husband, he's going to eat it in about 4 minutes flat, and you're going to be all like "WHAT THE HECK!?! THAT TOOK ME ALL MORNING!"

OK, maybe that's just me.

But seriously, if you're organized though, it'll go quickly and the results will be super worth it. The leftovers keep well for a few days, so make a large batch and keep it in the fridge for a quick lunch over the next few days.

This is also SO great for a dinner party because then you can do the fancy restaurant thing where you serve the guest the bowl with the garnish in the center and then dramatically pour the soup in around it.

So fancy!  They'll LOVE it!

And yes, the crab and avocado salad is awesome on its own, too. And it's ready in, like, 3 minutes so... do as you please.

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Chilled Fresh Pea Soup with Crab & Guacamole Salad Recipe
Serves 4

Extra virgin olive oil
3 leeks, tough green parts removed, rinsed well, and tender white and green parts thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, crushed
3 celery ribs, sliced
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth (homemade if you've got it!)
4 cups fresh or frozen peas
1 pound sugar snap peas
Juice of 1 large lemon
1 cup heavy cream
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

For the salad
1/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and finely minced
Juice of 2 limes
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 pound pasteurized crab meat (use jumbo lump if you're feeling fancy or regular claw meat for a more affordable option
2 ripe avocados

In a large heavy-bottomed pot, heat the olive oil and add the leeks, garlic, and celery ribs. Saute until tender but not colored, about 5 minutes. Pour in the chicken broth and let simmer 15 minutes until all vegetables are very tender.

While the vegetables simmer, prepare an ice bath by placing a large bowl in a roasting pan and filling the pan with ice and water.

Add the peas and sugar snaps to the soup, and let simmer 3-5 minutes until tender, but still bright green. Immediately remove from heat, stir in the lemon juice, and puree using an immersion blender or in batches in a blender. Pour the soup through a mesh strainer into the ice bath and stir to chill. Transfer the soup in batches to the ice bath and stir to chill. Stir in the heavy cream. Taste and season with kosher salt and black pepper as desired (remember that the savory crab salad will add a lot of flavor so you may prefer to keep the soup a little on the blander side).

Can be prepared up to 48 hours in advance (store in an air-tight container in the fridge and stir before serving.)

Prepare the crab salad just before serving:

Whisk together the cilantro, jalapeno, lime juice, and kosher salt. Gently toss with the crab meat. Dice the avocado and delicately fold into the crab salad.

To serve: divide the crab salad and pile into the center of a shallow bowl. Pour the soup around the salad and serve. (You can also serve the soup in a small container along with the plate and let each guest pour it for himself at the table.)

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