Salad Days

Back in March we were facing lockdown, and like so many people I turned to the garden.

I love growing vegetables, but somehow this year it seemed really important. Watching the young seedlings emerge gave my days a real sense of purpose. Gardening is never straight forward, and a late frost meant I had to start again, but despite all the challenges by June we were enjoying delicious salads with lettuce straight from the garden. I’ve grown it in pots and in the flower borders instead of my usual flowers.

Now in July, we have an abundance of lettuce and it is starting to bolt. Not one for waste, I decided to make lettuce soup. It’s delicious served hot and equally good chilled for a light summery meal.

Ingredients
Serves 4 – 6

2 tbsp oil
1 onion finely chopped
250g/9oz lettuce leaves, trimmed, washed and thickly sliced. Any salad leaves will work.
400g/14oz potatoes, cut into small chunks of about 2cm/¾ inches
800ml/1⅓ pint chicken or vegetable stock
100ml/3½fl oz milk (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
Rasp of nutmeg – this really makes it!

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and gently fry the onion for 5–6 minutes, or until softened and beginning to brown, stirring regularly.
  2. Add the lettuce and potatoes and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  3. Add the stock and bring to a gentle simmer. Cover loosely with a lid and cook for 10–12 minutes, or until the potatoes are very tender, stirring occasionally.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat and blitz using a stick blender until smooth. If the soup is a little thick, add a splash of just-boiled water. Or for a creamier tasting soup you can stir in the milk just before the end of cooking. Season to taste with plenty of salt and pepper and a rasp of nutmeg.
  5. Ladle into warmed bowls and, if you like, top with swirls of cream and chopped herbs. Delicious!