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  • Writer's pictureHeather Green

Elegant Chilled English Pea Soup with Crab and Meyer Lemons

Updated: Dec 24, 2023

I am always trying to elevate my cooking. I want the people who visit and eat at my house (and my lucky hubby) to always feel like they’re eating at a restaurant. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m all for an easy weeknight meal, but we all want to feel special, and being able to cook something like this not only feels great but tastes AMAZING especially if you want something refreshing for summer.


Last year for our anniversary Amin took me to the Meritage on the Boston Harbor. Sadly the Meritage has since closed BUT there was a dish they served that inspired me. It was a crab in an herb soup served cold and in the heat of July, it was DELICIOUS. Of course, no high-end chef is going to just relinquish a recipe to me, so I had to do some sleuthing into a recipe that would be similar to what I had AND I FOUND IT!!!!! or at least a pretty close replica. This one can be found on the Food and Wine Website.

Now I’m going, to be honest. This soup was NOT easy to make. It was an absolute labor of love, and so worth it. The pea soup is strained and chilled and the crab is lightly cooked and also served cold. Trust me, if you want to impress your summertime guests this soup is bound to do that. Just take your time and enjoy the process. The ingredients list is a bit long, but too weird. The soup part can actually be made a day in advance if you’re looking to make this for a special event.

Elegant Chilled English Pea Soup with Crab and Meyer Lemons by

  1. 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for garnish

  2. 1 small sweet onion, diced

  3. 2 small celery stalks, diced

  4. 1 garlic clove, smashed

  5. 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided

  6. 3 cups whole milk, divided

  7. 4 pounds fresh English peas, shelled (about 5 cups or 30 ounces shelled peas) (I actually used frozen peas)

  8. 2 bunches watercress (about 4 ounces), rinsed

  9. 1 teaspoon ground white pepper

  10. 1/4 cup crème fraîche, (if you can’t find this you can substitute sour cream. It won’t be exactly the same but close)

  11. 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives, plus more for garnish

  12. 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill

  13. 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon

  14. 1 teaspoon Meyer lemon zest

  15. 3 tablespoons fresh Meyer lemon juice, divided

  16. 1/2 pound cooked Dungeness or other lump crabmeat

  17. Pea tendrils and freshly ground black pepper, for garnish (optional)

Elegant Chilled English Pea Soup with Crab and Meyer Lemons by

1.) Heat oil in a large saucepan over low. Add onion, celery, garlic, and 1 teaspoon salt. Sauté until onions are translucent, 10 to 12 minutes. Add 2 cups milk; bring to a simmer, and cook until vegetables are tender about 10 minutes. Remove from heat; let cool slightly.

2.) While vegetables are cooking, prepare a large bowl of ice water and bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add peas (even if they’re frozen) to the pot, return to a boil, and cook until peas are bright green and just tender, about 2 minutes. Remove peas with a slotted spoon, and immediately plunge into ice water. Once cooled, remove peas from ice water and set aside.

3.) Return water in pot to a boil, add watercress, and cook until bright green and wilted, about 1 minute. Plunge watercress into ice water. Drain the water once watercress are cool. Squeeze watercress to remove as much water as possible.

4.) Combine peas, watercress, and remaining 1 cup milk in a blender. Process on high until smooth. Working in batches if necessary, add onion mixture to blender; process on high until smooth (if you don’t have a blender you can also use an immersion blender). Pour through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a bowl. This might take time and you might have to use a spoon to press the soup through the mesh; discard solids. Season with remaining 1 teaspoon salt and white pepper. Cover and chill until ready to serve, at least 2 hours or up to 1 day.

Elegant Chilled English Pea Soup with Crab and Meyer Lemons by

5.) Briefly cook the crab meat and allow it to cool completely in the fridge.

6.) Whisk together crème fraîche, 1 tablespoon chives, 1 tablespoon dill, tarragon, lemon zest, and 2 tablespoons lemon juice in a medium bowl. Gently fold in crab. Chill until ready to serve, at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.

Stir the remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice into soup. To serve, pour 3/4 cup soup into each bowl, add one large dollop of crab salad in the center of the soup, and drizzle with oil. Garnish with chives, pea tendrils, and black pepper, if desired.

Elegant Chilled English Pea Soup with Crab and Meyer Lemons by

My hope for you cooking this recipe, is that you become more confident in your cooking abilities and less intimidated by long ingredient lists. I remember serving this to Amin and feeling so proud of myself and I couldn’t wait to tell you all about it. If you have any questions about this recipe, please let me know in the comments below or on my social media. Going out to eat a gourmet meal is fun, but it’s even more fun to make it yourself and know you have that luxurious power right in your own kitchen. I hope you rock this recipe and feel awesome about yourself. If this recipe didn’t go so well for you, no worries! Life is a learning process and I’m sure one day you’ll try again and totally succeed. -Heather Astaneh

Elegant Chilled English Pea Soup with Crab and Meyer Lemons by


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