Thursday, June 7, 2012

Creme de Laitue, or what to do with all. that. CSA. lettuce

You know what I'm talking about. Every week you get your CSA share and there are at least 3 or 4 heads of lettuce. We barely got through last week's share by making lots and lots of salad. On Saturday we got more lettuce. I realized yesterday that it was Wednesday and we hadn't even touched any of the lettuce.  There was no way we could eat enough salad to finish it before getting the next share. I remembered listening to a recent radio broadcast about Thomas Jefferson's garden.  He really loved his veggies, apparently. Lettuce, it seems, was a favorite of his. It came up that in Jefferson's time lettuce was frequently cooked.  Other than wilted lettuce salad I don't think I've ever had lettuce cooked. I'm so glad that I heard that little tidbit about cooking lettuce because it led me to Creme de Laitue, or cream of lettuce soup.

I did a little internet search for "cooked lettuce" and found a fair number of unappealing recipes.  Braised lettuce, for one (apparently it turns gray-ew).  Fortunately, I stumbled across a Martha Rose Shulman recipe in the N.Y. Times for Lettuce and Green Garlic Soup  I changed it quite a bit since I didn't have green garlic and wanted to some herbs from our CSA (are you seeing a pattern here?).  I followed Ms. Shulman's recipe but used 4 garlic cloves minced, added chopped dill and basil at the end of cooking.  After blending the soup with an immersion blender I added a bit of cream (I had half and half but heavy cream would be very nice), maybe half a cup.  I sprinkled some cayenne pepper in and served the soup with some shredded parmesan.

The soup is a lovely spring green color and has more flavor than I expected from soup made from lettuce.  It reminded me of Marcella Hazan's escarole and rice soup in flavor.  It's elegant and delicious and I used up most of my Romaine and Buttercrunch lettuce.  I would definitely make this again when I am confronted with a surfeit of lettuce.  Which will probably be next week.

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