Lettuce soup sounds like such a boring, bland, flavorless concoction. I mean Lettuce, turned to Soup, how good can that actually be? The answer is: holy crazy amazing! Who new that lettuce, the filler leaf of salads, could shine so brightly as the star of this simple soup!
I happened on the miracle that is lettuce soup when I found myself with a ridiculous surplus of lettuce and a plane to catch the next day.
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There’s a new farmer at my local Farmer’s Market who grows an amazing variety of lettuce hydroponically. This means that he has lettuce during the hottest days of summer when other local farmer’s have to focus on other crops (I talked about the difference in nutrients between hydroponically grown and dirt-grown veggies in this recent The Paleo View episode). In the early summer, I got used to asking for one head of each variety they still had for sale. This was typically two or three varieties because I was in the habit of sleeping in on Saturdays and meandering to the market toward closing time. But, a few weeks ago, I was at the market unusually early and it was a rainy morning, keeping the usual crowds at bay. When I asked for my routine “one of each”, my farmer looked at me and said “I have seven varieties.” Feeling adventurous, I decided to go for it! Seven varieties of lettuce! Score!
I love lettuce. It’s my favorite vegetable. I can eat it a head at a time. Without any dressing. Yes, I know that’s weird. But, there it is anyway. The thing I didn’t really think through at the time was that I was leaving with my family for a 2.5-week long trip in just four days. That’s not much time to eat seven huge heads of lettuce, even for me.
So, the night before our trip, with two and a half heads of lettuce left in my crisper, I was faced with a choice: figure out something to make that I can freeze or throw it all out [insert cry of denial]. So, I decided to try my hand at a Paleo adaptation of lettuce soup.
Normally when I’m adapting a recipe, I’ve had it before, and have a good idea what the goal is in terms of flavor and texture. But, I can’t remember ever having lettuce soup (you know, because it sounds like the most boring bland soup ever!). So, I scoured the internet for recipes, noticed the common ingredients of butter, heavy cream, and potatoes, and new instantly that my strategy would be similar to my Chunky No-Tato Leek Soup.
I was late by the time I’d finished making my experimental creation. I wanted to go to bed to get what little sleep I could before my 5:30am alarm. I pulled out some mason jars to freeze the soup as the same time as I dipped a spoon into the pot to give it a taste. I was instantly in heaven. I couldn’t believe how delicious it was! This is absolutely, hand-down, my favorite soup. I made my tired husband try it. He does not feel about lettuce the way I do, yet adored this soup. Before we knew it, we’d eaten half the batch even though we were still full from dinner. No, it doesn’t taste like lettuce. It tastes like awesome (for lack of a better description). While traveling, I made it for everyone I could and got those same raised eyebrows and then same ecstatic mmmmmmm face as they tried it. And so now, I’m sharing this recipe with you! I hope you also give this soup a chance!
Substitutions: If you can’t find green plantains and do well with potatoes, use one large russet potato instead of the plantain.
You can make this autoimmune protocol compliant by skipping the pepper, coriander and cardamom. Try an 1/8 of a teaspoon of mace or a pinch of ground cloves instead.
Serving Suggestions: As a beautiful and tasty option, swirl a spoonful or two of coconut cream, coconut milk kefir, or plain coconut yogurt into each bowl before serving. Parsley and cilantro chopped and sprinkled over the top are lovely garnishes too. This soup pairs well with seafood, so you could add some crab meat or shrimp to make it more of a full meal. We even enjoyed it one night with chopped leftover chicken mixed in!
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Yield: 2-4 servings
- 3 Tbsp beurre noisette (aka brown butter), ghee, butter, lard, or coconut oil
- 1 cup of chopped shallots (about 3 large)
- 1 garlic clove, chopped
- 3/4 tsp ground coriander
- 1/8 tsp cardamom
- 3/4 tsp salt, plus more to taste
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1 green plantain, peeled and cut into 1″ chunks
- 1 lb (about 2 large heads) of lettuce (Boston and bibb are the classic varieties for Lettuce Soup, but any sweeter variety will work well), roughly chopped
- 4 cups chicken broth
- Heat beurre noisette (or other fat) in a large saucepot over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes.
- Add garlic and spices. Cook, stirring frequently, another minute, until fragrant.
- Add lettuce. Stir constantly for 2-3 minutes to wilt the lettuce.
- Add broth and plantain. Bring to a boil and the reduce heat to maintain a simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes.
- Puree the soup by putting the entire contents of the pot into your blender and blending on high for 1 minute (do this in batches if you have a smaller blender). An immersion blender can also be used, but will be harder to get that perfect creamy consistency.
- Serve! See the notes above for serving suggestions!