Cooking With Lettuce?!?! Yes! And It’s Delicious!!!

This soup makes use of spring garden ingredients: peas, lettuce, spring onions and tarragon. If you have ever grown peas you know shelling peas is a pain. It’s a whole lot of work for very little reward. Apparently, I am not learning my lesson from the previous experiences, because I rush out and plant them every spring. They fix nitrogen in the soil, so it’s really a soil building exercise that has a byproduct. I also can’t convince myself to waste perfectly good peas.

The great thing about this soup is you can use a big family size bag of frozen peas. That means no shelling is involved and you can eat it no matter what season you are in! (Don’t worry, this is not split pea soup which is made from dried winter legumes. It is completely different, fresh and incredibly enjoyable!)

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One of the things that originally piqued my interest in this soup is that it uses lettuce. I have never cooked with lettuce in any other dish. If you are well into your spring and you are getting tired of your daily salad but don’t know what else to do with your lettuce: this is a great use for it! In fact, you can make this soup and freeze it and eat it later. It’s also quick. That means there is absolutely no reason to let any of your spring lettuce go to waste!

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Spring Soup (Adapted from Spring Pea Soup from Better Homes and Gardens. I have played with it for years and it’s still in our weekly rotation.)

Ingredients:
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You need a minimum of 5 cups of peas. The family size bag of frozen peas that I use is about 8 cups. If you are shelling your own: go with what you have and make up any you are short with with frozen peas. Most things you cook on the stove have a lot of latitude for ratios. Our obsession with measuring things would make my grandmother laugh! She would tell me that I don’t cook often enough if I have to measure.
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2 14 ounce cans vegetable or chicken broth or three cups of water with vegetable or chicken bullion cubes or other concentrate.
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2 heads of a Bibb type lettuce. Use whatever you are growing or grab something at the store.
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I use large heads, you can use small heads. Again, this is all going to end up with the same flavor.
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2 bunches spring onion (or scallions), about 12, sliced
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3 Tablespoons fresh tarragon with a few sprigs reserved for garnish or 1Tablespoon dried tarragon. (I have frequently had to use dried tarragon. Fresh is better but it is still great with dried tarragon. But really: use whatever you buy. Fresh herbs are relatively mild and you probably won’t have another need for this before the rest goes bad. You won’t need to make this again for a while either: this makes a lot of soup. I totally love leftovers!!!)
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2 cups of any of the following: 1/2 heavy cream and 1/2 milk, half and half  or light cream (I use heavy cream for about half of it and milk to thin it out. This is a meal for me and I treat it as such. I am not afraid of fats, but that’s another story. You can also blend in half a block of soft tofu at the end to help stave off hunger, if you like to cut fats.)
Salt
Black pepper
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Slices crusty bread (We frequently skip the bread. If we don’t: I use a Carribean bread. I ate a lot of baguettes on a school trip to France. I have always considered them more of a weapon than a bread, but that is just me.)
If you like: 2 ounces prosciutto, cut into thin strips (I usually skip the prosciutto for weeknight meals but it is delicious! It will be with the packaged deli meats.)
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Feta cheese to your taste. We use about a 1/3 of a cup in each bowl. Wait to add the feta until serving. You will have plenty of soup to freeze and it’s better not to freeze the feta. This makes a lot of soup. If you are looking for the “wow” factor, you can reserve some cheese for garnish. 
However you choose to go: it is still extremely filling. Thanks to the protein and fiber in the peas, and the fats in the milk and cheese: this is not a soup you that will leave you hungry again after you are done. Believe it or not: I lost weight, and so did hubby, when we were eating this and I was only cooking soups.
Directions:
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  1. Add peas and broth to an 8 quart lidded pot. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer. Cook for 6 minutes covered. Add half of your lettuce and replace the lid, raise to a boil and let it steam a little. Uncover and stir the peas and broth up over the top of the lettuce until it wilts. Add remaining lettuce (Yes, it will fit!) and spring onions (or scallions). Return to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 4 to 6 minutes more or until peas and onions are tender. Stir in tarragon.20140320_182656
  2. Use a stick blender straight in the pot and blend until fairly smooth. If you don’t have a stick blender you can attempt to slowly ladle this back and forth into a blender or food processor but I really recommend the stick blender. Stir in your choice of milk/cream or half and half until you have thinned it enough that it is to your liking. Make sure you heat it through. Add salt to taste.20140320_183924
  3. Top each serving with feta, freshly cracked pepper and add prosciutto, if you are using it. Add a tarragon sprig for garnish. Place bread to the side of the bowl (you can toast it if you have the inclination.) Do not add it to the soup or it will be a mushy mess. (This plates nicely enough to serve to guests that you are trying to impress.)
  4. Cool the rest and bag it in a ziplock freezer bag and freeze for later. I recommend freezing it in amounts that you will consume it.
  5. Makes approximately 12-13 cups

On a side note:

Do not buy fresh peas. Just finding them would be hard and buying them fresh would make this an expensive soup. If you haven’t spent your day shelling your own (and have the obligatory painful hands from the process!) then the very next best is frozen. Anything you can get frozen in the US is going to be fresher than what you are buying in the produce section. Frozen vegetables are in a condition pretty close to what you’d get in the field.

Let me know what you think. This really is a 5 star soup. You could serve it to your in-laws or even your boss and their family and they’d be completely impressed with your cooking skills! It would be even more impressive if you could mention that you grew some of the ingredients yourself!!!! Enjoy your spring and happy eating!

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14 responses to “Cooking With Lettuce?!?! Yes! And It’s Delicious!!!

  1. Thank you so much for the comment! sometimes i laugh too. ahem. But more kindred-ness: isn’t that Better than Boullion stuff fabulous? I love this soup idea! I usually just make stock with my excess lettuces and this is great. I am hooked on your blog……

  2. This looks like an addition to my ever growing soup recipes – and another way to add green in my diet! Thanks!

  3. Looking forward to trying this, thanks for a great recipe. As a vegetarian I sometimes struggle to get enough protein because I focus on vegetables too much, this looks like my kind of soup!

  4. Wow! really? I’ll keep this in mind. 🙂

  5. I’ve always wanted to try cooking with lettuce and this looks super scrummy, will give it a go some day soon!

  6. I am so going to try this. We’re getting tired of salad and our tortoise isn’t taking up the slack…

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