June 1, 2021. It was 80 degrees and humid when I made this. This perfect cool, light meal. Better. Cheaper. Chilled.
No oven, no stove, no sweat. I used a food processor and got it done in three minutes. You could use a mortar and pestle like M.F.K. Fisher during the last Depression. That Way, you get the added benefit of a 10-minute upper body workout. Pound vigorously while standing and burn 30 calories. Twenty percent of your soup serving.
This is really a salad cross-dressing as a soup. Lettuce and herbs with milk. Amazing how flavorful it is. It really tastes like lettuce. Very good lettuce.
I made it with great lettuce I get from my CSA farm share. If you don’t do that, go to the the Farmers Market. You’ll be pleasantly shocked by the difference that fresh and well-grown make. If you think of lettuce as nothing but a platform for salad dressing, this’ll change your mind. It’s prime greens season in a lot of places, so lettuce is peaking in ripeness and supply. And plunging in price. Demand the good stuff. Better and Cheaper.
To serve 4 or more
1 head of lettuce, chopped. I used red leaf.
6 stems of parsley
12 sage leaves
1 sprig of rosemary
6 sprigs thyme
20 basil leaves
12 arugula leaves
1 small Kirby cucumber
3 cups of whole milk (or more to serve more)
Lettuce. Herbs. Milk. I was feelin’ groovy so I went outside in the humid 80-degree air to quickly pick parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. And basil because it felt like summer in the city. Threw in a Kirby cucumber and scallion, too.
Put everything but the milk in your food processor. Press play and wait 30 seconds. You’ll have 3 – 4 cups of deep green pesto. Add 1 cup of the milk and blend for 10 more seconds. Now transfer the mix to a serving bowl and stir in two more cups of milk. Use more if you want to serve more. There’s plenty of flavor and substance in the greens to stand up to more milk. Salt and pepper to taste. Or not. Cover and put it in the fridge for 30 minutes. Or a day.
Is this really good? Good enough to make a meal? True story: Kathy was sure I was kidding when I said we’re having lettuce soup for dinner. She went right to the fridge looking for leftovers. I noted that there was a fresh brioche loaf to go with the soup. Cut to the chase: several servings later, she mopped up the last of the chilled lettuce soup with a thin slice of bread.
It’s surprisingly satisfying. Almost shockingly flavorful. And it’s very, very cooling. When it’s too hot to bother making dinner, this is a wonderful dinner to make.
Less than a dollar per serving for a flavorful, light, refreshing lunch or dinner.
I haven’t found anyone near you or me who serves lettuce soup, but I did check out the menu at P.F. Chang’s, chain home of the lettuce wrap. They want $4.95 for their “Shanghai cucumbers” appetizer: sliced, cold cucumbers sprinkled with soy and sesame.
Let’s Do The Math
30 minutes to walk off all 150 calories in a 2-cup bowl. 146 from the milk and 4 from the greens. A big serving of Vitamins A and D and calcium. Near-zero Glycemic Load.
A very big hunk of that great, crusty no-kneading bread adds 180 calories. A big side of that buttery brioche: 240 calories. None of it sticks to your sides if you walk or garden another 45 minutes.