Monday, June 11, 2012

Let Us Eat Lettuce

I've blogged about my love for Community Supported Agriculture ("CSA") programs before, and I'm thrilled that CSA season is here again! This year we're splitting a full produce share with my husband's parents, so we'll have garden-y goodness every week from now through mid-October. We've partnered (a CSA is a type of partnership, really) with a new-to-us farm this year: Equinox Community Farm.

First CSA deliveries tend to be mostly greens, so it was a very pleasant surprise that along with the anticipated Asian cooking greens (polkadotted with bug bites, but that just proves they're organically grown) and young garlic & scapes, Equinox also added purple kohlrabi and a container of the most succulent strawberries you can imagine. Also: lettuce. So. Much. Lettuce.

So let's talk about lettuce. As a vegetarian I'd had my share of lettuce-as-a-meal. Most often in the past I joined a group of family or friends at a restaurant of their choice and, faced with a menu of factory-farmed meats and cheese-laden pastas, ended up making do with a pitiful side salad (iceberg, carrot shavings, perhaps a mealy tomato slice or two). I quickly became a lettuce-hater. It was eaten by necessity but I took no pleasure in the green. (And yes, it's absolutely possible to hate lettuce and still be a vegetarian because there are a million non-lettuce plant-based foods in the world).

Since re-introducing meat back into my diet (we're going to come back to this in another post someday soon, but suffice to say I think my meat-eating days are numbered) I've ironically forged a new love for these first greens of the summer. I believe growing our own garden has had a lot to do with it (iceberg is banished from our property!); baby lettuces are amazingly delicious and so very easy to grow. Trying to choose seasonal produce has helped as well, since these first fresh-from-the-soil greens hint at all the amazing greenery soon to come from the Wisconsin earth. You don't get the same rush when picking-up a bag of pre-washed at the grocery store.

So lettuce is back on the menu, boys. But. OMG. So. Much. Lettuce. You cannot possibly eat so many salads (ok, of course you could. But I don't care to and neither do you, probably). What to do? You could let it sit in a bag in your fridge until it becomes a slimy goo and then toss it into the compost, OR...

You could make Lettuce Soup!

Sounds weird, I know. I mentioned that I was going to make this to some co-workers and the idea received a general thumbs down as far as mouthwatering ideas go. But I persevered (read: I had so much lettuce I was desperate) and tried it anyway. And, of course, since this is how these things go, even though I was worried it'd be disgusting it was the opposite. It was so delicious. SO. DELICIOUS. And now it's your turn to make it. Believe me, it's worth it, even though the photo I snapped with my iPhone doesn't communicate how good it is.

Adapted from a recipe of Emeril's:
Lettuce Soup
  • 2 Tbls olive oil
  • 1 cup sliced onion
  • 1 green garlic plant (use all the bulbs & the scape)
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp dried chives
  • 2 tsp dried tarragon
  • 2 heads of lettuce, washed & torn into pieces (I used a green lettuce & a red lettuce)
  • 3 cups light stock (vegetable or chicken)
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk (or heavy cream)
  • Any cooked or canned vegetables you wish to add (we used potatoes, carrots & green beans)
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
Heat large saucepan and add olive oil. When oil is hot add the onion and cook for a minute or two, then add the garlic. Cook until the onion is translucent. Add the parsley, chives, tarragon and lettuce and stir until the lettuce is completely wilted, about 3 minutes. Add the stock and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Using an immersion blender (or transferring the soup in batches to a blender or processor) blend the soup--use care, it's hot! Add other cooked or canned vegetables and warm through. When ready to serve, stir in the milk or cream and season with salt and pepper.
4 Servings.
We ate two heads of lettuce last night in the form of delicious delectable soup. Even Uli ate her fill. And no need to use the salad spinner, just rinse, tear, and add to the pot.

No more excuses for the slimy bags rotting in the fridge, no more complaints about being force-fed rabbit food. Lettuce soup will save you. Repeat after me now: when the CSA gives you lettuce, make soup! 


Lauren @ Hobo Mama July 6, 2012 at 4:00 PM  

We eventually stopped getting a CSA box because of the lettuce! Oh, the lettuce! The first year or two, all was well: lots of variety, and then some lettuce on the side. But then I guess someone (the farm? the purchasers?) voted to Grow More Lettuce, and then that's almost all the box was. We started feeling sooo guilty about throwing so much of it away. And, yes, we were vegetarian at the time, too!

And, yes, don't get me started on restaurants where the only option is an iceberg side salad. Sigh. I spent a week and a half in Maine with my in-laws one summer, and we ate at seafood restaurants each night. I thought I was going to get rickets.

All this to say: Thank you for the recipe for lettuce soup. You're a pal.

Thomasin July 11, 2012 at 1:54 PM  

Hurray! I hope you try and enjoy it. :-)

Anonymous July 24, 2012 at 10:14 AM  

Ugh, I have so much lettuce in the fridge from our CSA, and I hadn't found a lettuce soup recipe I liked yet... I'm certainly going to try yours this week, thanks!!

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