Monday, June 21, 2010

Use Your Booty: Lettuce Soup with Spring Peas

The idea of lettuce soup may make you cock your head to the side and go "huh?" but do give this soup a try. If you're in a CSA you'll probably be buried in lettuces shortly and this is a nice alternative to yet another green salad. I used all green lettuces because I think red lettuce might have turned this soup's color a little muddy.

I garnished the soup with steamed peas, a few pea tendrils and some mint and chives. I served our soup chilled; it was so insanely hot and humid today, the idea of hot soup was painful.

Lettuce Soup
Serves 2-3
A few thoughts on this recipe:
  • Serve it in mugs for sipping - it was super splashy to eat out of a bowl
  • Next time, I'm going to add a potato or two to the pot to provide a little more body to the soup. The version was refreshing but I think a little more richness would be nice.
  • If you're serving this cold - make sure it's super cold: in the fridge overnight is great. I made it the day we ate it, so I poured the soup in to a ziploc bag and left it in the freezer for two hours.
  • 1 onion, diced
  • olive oil and/or butter
  • 1 medium potato, optional (see above), cubed, peeled, if you wish
  • 1-2 large heads of lettuce, ribs and leaves coarsely chopped (14-16 cups - that is NOT a typo) - I used a combination of lettuces: oak leaf, buttercrunch, green leaf and romaine
  • 2 cups chicken broth or water
  • salt and pepper
  • garnishes: herbs of your choice (mint, chives and summer savory would be nice), cooked peas, cream, creme fraiche
Sweat the onion, over medium-low heat, in a stockpot in a little butter or olive oil until softened, about 5-10 minutes.

If using the potato, add it to the pot with the chicken broth or water and simmer until the potato is softened. If you're not using the potato, add the broth or water to the pot.

Add the lettuce to the simmering liquid and cook for 5-10 minutes, until lettuce is wilted down and softened - adding a little water the lettuce needs it to cook down. Purée the soup in a blender in batches, let the blender run for a while to really break down the lettuce as it's more fibrous than you might think. Add cold water to the blender if needed to help the blending along. I strained the soup to get rid of some of the larger fibers that didn't break down. If you don't do that your soup will like be a little chunkier than mine was. It will still taste good though.

Check seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.

If serving cold chill the soup down until it's super cold. Check the seasoning again and add more salt as needed.

The lettuce will have a little more bitterness than you might expect - add a pinch of sugar and/or a squeeze or lemon to counteract that if needed.

Serve in bowls or mugs and garnish with herbs, fresh peas and/or a drizzle of cream or creme fraiche.

This Summer, I am chronicling my first CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) experience. My CSA share is from Arrowhead Farm, a farm based in Newburyport, MA. Each week, I am posting about what was in my share and what I'm doing with it. By way of full disclosure, I won my share through a raffle and am not paying for it. However, Arrowhead did not know I was entered in the raffle, and I received no special consideration because of this blog. I paid for my livestock share. A full set of all the photos I've taken of this share is here.

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