Monday, May 07, 2012

lettuce soup (fear not!)

By Julie

I like how lettuce soup sounds like gruel or something. Thin, watery, tasteless broth with wilted leaves of iceberg lettuce floating listlessly about. Served lukewarm to you in a rough hewn stoneware bowl while you hang your head and try to will it down your throat. Gross. I hope you don't bypass this. It's nothing like that. Instead, it's bright and springy and a fun way to use big beautiful heads of lettuce and perhaps whatever kinds of greens you have around.
I'm going to the Grand Canyon the first week in June. Rim to rim trip. It's going to be stupid and hot and long. Stupid because what the heck was I thinking to agree to hiking 23 miles one day and then doing it all over again (the way back we're splitting into two days, but still). So hotttttt. And sunnyyyyyy. Ahhhhh. Oh and I think some of the people we're going with are going to be running some of it. And how am I supposed to not run it if other people are running. I'm very susceptible to fitness peer pressure! We're also going to be hiking day trips around Utah before the Grand Canyon hike. There's going to be so much Southwest in my life. Colorado is kinda southwesty. I still find that weird to think about. I don't identify with the southwest very much. Except kokopellis. I mean, I do have a rather large kokopelli collection. Including a tattoo of one on my ankle. Joking.
I didn't incorporate too much with this soup, but it could be a kind of springboard for a denser soup. Heavy cream of course comes to mind, as does boiling potatoes before you put in your lettuce leaves and then puréeing it all together to make it heartier. What I really liked about this soup, though, is its simplicity. Its ability to really let you taste the very few ingredients. I would like to try adding in a spicier green in addition to a big head of lettuce next time. I had some arugula that I had gotten along with the lettuce, but I wanted to save it for a salad. More leeks would be good, too. It'd be hard to go overboard on the freshly ground nutmeg. It's just SO GOOD.
When is a wrist injury supposed to get better? Mine still hurts. I bet I broke it back in December. And now it's healed crappily and I'm forever screwed with a bum wrist. And then I'll have to get surgery and a 14 month recovery time only at the end of which I'll find out that the bones didn't heal properly and I either have to have surgery again or I'm just screwed even more. It hurts just typing this stupid blog post. You better freaking make my lettuce soup.

lettuce soup
adapted from Sunset Magazine, serves about 6 - 8

2 tablespoons butter
1 large or 2 smaller leeks, white and light green parts sliced lengthwise and then crosswise and washed well
1 large head of romaine, red leaf, or other lettuce (I don't think iceberg would be that great in this...) washed well
zest of 1 lemon
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground nutmeg
4 cups chicken broth
sea salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Heat butter in a large pot over medium heat and add leeks, the lower 1/4 or 1/3 of the head of lettuce - the thicker stems, lemon zest, and nutmeg. Cook for about 5 minutes. Please, please make sure your lettuce and leeks are well-washed. Gritty soup sucks (I washed mine real well I thought and still had a couple lightly gritty spoonfuls).

2. Pour in the stock and add in the rest of the lettuce leaves. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, for about 10 minutes. Time doesn't totally matter as the lettuce will wilt real quick. If you're in a hurry just a few minutes will do but if you're not and you let the thing simmer for 30 minutes, it'll be fine and perhaps better.

3. Using a blender or immersion blender, purée until very smooth. Add in pepper and some salt if your broth isn't very salty.

Serve with more nutmeg on top. Additional lemon zest would be awesome too if you can find some overlooked patches on your lemon.
This was originally posted at my blog, the crankin' kitchen!

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