A Hamburger Today
Vegetarian: Creamy Lettuce and Garlic Scape Soup
In the early summertime, when the produce available at the farmers market or inside your CSA basket is just beginning to explode, cooking can be less a matter of choosing what you want to eat and more a matter of fighting to win the battle against your crisper drawer before your soft, delicate salad greens expire.
My own CSA share started a couple of weeks ago, and I've been feasting on early-season delights such as crisp pink radishes; sweet, tender beets; and, of course, every kind of lettuce you can think of. The heads quickly started to pile up in my refrigerator, and I began to feel helpless. After eating salad every day for a week, I decided I'd have to cook the stuff.
I'd never cooked lettuce before, but I knew that the ever-frugal French had recipes for braised lettuce and lettuce soup, so I thought I'd give it a shot. I ultimately opted for the latter technique, since I also had a few garlic scapes kicking around that I thought would lend nice flavor to a soup.
If you've never cooked lettuce before and find yourself wary, let me assuage your fears: This soup, which wilts the lettuce in a flavorful broth of veggie stock cut with a little dry white wine, comes out deeply flavorful and quite unique tasting. Cooking lettuce doesn't make it more watery and wan; on the contrary, it deepens the greens' flavors, bringing out the peppery notes that characterize lettuce's more assertive cousins like watercress and radicchio. A touch of cream smooths everything out, a hit of nutmeg adds a little bit of spice, and the soup is equally good served hot or chilled.
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About the author: Lauren Rothman is a former Serious Eats intern, a freelance catering chef, and an obsessive chronicler of all things culinary. Try the original recipes on her blog, For the Love of Food, and follow her on Twitter @Lochina186.