Lettuce soup? Really? I know. It sounds like something out of Willy Wonka or Oliver Twist. But when faced with six heads of lettuce in the fridge, a seeming million green salads, and lettuce wraps for dinner every night for a week, a girl’s got to push her lettuce boundaries (or buy a rabbit). It’s also one of the few ways I can think of to preserve lettuce, while we are in the height of the early summer bounty, because we all know that I am incapable of allowing it to go to waste (the horror!).
I looked at quite a few recipes in my search for a use-up-the-lettuce winner: most lettuce soup recipes seemed to be more about cream and aromatics than actual lettuce. I finally settled on this one by Emeril Lagasse, which is fairly simple, straightforward, and lettuce-packed, with a nod to this Gourmet recipe for the potato and butter.
And the verdict? Well, it wasn’t bad, honestly. I did not have high expectations: hot lettuce? Blended into a creamy soup? It’s just not as drool-worthy as, say, crispy pork, is it? But, I’ve had several bowls over the last week or so, and it’s pretty tasty. I don’t think it’s something that I would purposefully buy lettuce to make, but it’s certainly a better use of my CSA lettuce than moldering in the bottom of my fridge. And I’ll bet that I’ll be happy for it’s bright green grassy & herby flavor in the depths of February. Which is what local eating is all about, isn’t it? Revel in the fresh produce at the height of its bounty and tuck some away to enjoy once it’s gone. I’m glad I finally found a way to tuck away lettuce, even if I do feel a little like Charlie Bucket.
- 3 tbsp butter
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 4 scallions, trimmed and diced
- 4 – 6 garlic scapes, with flower heads, coarsley chopped OR 2 garlic cloves, peeled
- 2 tbsp coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 2 tbsp coarsley chopped chives
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
- 2 large heads lettuce, ends trimmed and coarsely chopped (I used one green curly and one Romaine-style)
- 2 medium red potatoes, peeled and diced
- 3 cups chicken stock, homemade or low-sodium
- 1/4 cup heavy cream, plus extra for garnish
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- In a medium Dutch oven or soup pot, heat butter over medium flame until foam subsides. Add onion, scallions and garlic scapes; sauté over medium-low heat until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. Add parsley, chives and thyme; sauté for 1 minute. Add lettuce, stir and sauté until wilted, about 1 – 2 minutes. Add potatoes and stock; cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer and cook, covered, until the potatoes are very tender, about 10 – 15 minutes.
- Process the soup with an immersion blender or transfer in batches to a blender or food processor. Add cream, salt & pepper: taste and adjust seasonings. Simmer for another 5 minutes or so, to heat through and reduce to desired thickness. Serve hot, garnished with a swirl of cream, scattered thyme leaves and fresh chives.
Serves 4 – 6.
- For the brightest green soup, use bright green, tender lettuce leaves. My curly lettuce was tipped with the slightly bit of reddish brown (not aging lettuce, just the natural color of the leaves) and it added a rather unappetizing brown tinge to the final soup.
- Most recipes out there added substantially more cream, or evaporated milk. I am not a big fan of overly creamy soups, but this did need a touch of cream to soften the grassy flavor of the lettuce. I think a dollop of yogurt or creme fraiche would be equally as good.
- The lettuce flavor really comes through, so I think this would work fine as a vegetarian version with vegetable stock. I would not, however, attempt a vegan version: I think the butter is really necessary for flavor.
Refrigerated for up to 5 days. I assume that this will freeze well, as most soups do, for up to 6 months, but I haven’t tried it yet.
Lettuce loves the cool weather and bright sunshine of late Spring and early Summer. There is usually a second, somewhat smaller, season as weather cools down in the Fall.