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 just because shelling is a pain.

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!)

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!

Ingredients:

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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You’ll need 2 cubes of broth concentrate and 3 cups water. You can use either vegetable or chicken broth. I usually use chicken broth.
2 heads of a Bibb type lettuce. Use whatever you are growing or grab something at the store. (I have also made this with half lettuce half Swiss chard. It is delicious either way.)
I use large heads, you can use several small heads. Again, this is all going to end up with the same flavor.
2 bunches spring onion (aka scallions), about 12, sliced
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3 Tablespoons fresh tarragon with a few sprigs reserved for garnish or 1 Tablespoon dried tarragon. (I have frequently had to use dried tarragon. Fresh is better but it is still great with dried tarragon. But really: use all of whatever fresh herbs 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! You can find it with the packaged deli meats.)
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, peas and tarragon 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:

  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.
  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 the milk/cream 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 before serving 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!

10 Comments Add yours

  1. J Balconi says:

    I never thought of cooking lettuce. I will have to try it. On related news, I tried radish seedpods – how marvelous! They have just enough zing! to make for a good addition to a salad, but a crisper texture than the root.

    1. I haven’t grown radishes or “rat tail” radishes in years. I should make a spot for them this fall. Thanks for reminding me about how delicious radishes can be! Thank you for coming by and commenting! I appreciate the visit.

      1. J Balconi says:

        I grew radishes from two that had gone bad. I have usually one pot in the yard that is for “ends and pieces.” My current one has green onions and leeks growing from leftover roots.
        Several years ago, I had a compost pile that turned into a marvelous pumpkin patch!

      2. I love playing “squash, squash, what is that squash?” in compost heaps! I’ve had some really interesting crosses come up in my compost!

  2. tonytomeo says:

    I would say this sounds weird, except that I remember an old recipe for ‘peas Hollywood’ that were simply peas steamed in a pot lined with lettuce. I really do not know why they were cooked like that, but someone thought it was good enough to write down directions for doing it.

    1. Well that’s interesting! I’ve never heard of that before. There’s another lettuce recipe for soup out there that has a cumin and potato base. It has great ratings. I’ve made it three times, thinking that I must have done something wrong. But I didn’t. It just doesn’t taste good. This one however is surprisingly delicious. I’ve used half chard in it before and it was just as good. Thanks for coming by!

      1. tonytomeo says:

        Lettuce varieties are remarkably variable too. I suspect that there is not much flavor to something like ‘Iceberg’.

  3. Kinny says:

    Looks Healthy

  4. akuner says:

    Looks truly healthy + delicious😋

    1. Thank you! Yes. It’s one of my family’s favorites (including my kids.) It’s a fantastic soup. I hope you enjoy it.

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