My first taste of a lettuce veloute, was in New York, a few weeks ago. I never thought mushy lettuce could blossom in a soup. It was velvety smooth and it felt strange that it tasted so well. And I suppose why not we use a lot of different greens we eat in salads to make soups too.
So, as soon as I got home, I ventured into the kitchen in an effort to re-create something similar. With the weather finally nearing pleasant temperatures, I levitated towards something chilled, and as rocket is one of my favorite leaves, I had to include it.
I followed the basic rules for making a soup; first I sautéed the aromatics like onions, garlic and then added a bit of potato for texture and body. I boiled it all in a fresh vegetable stock before finally adding the lettuce, rocket and tarragon. The rocket adds a lovely peppery undertone while I find tarragon to be a beautiful accompaniment to potatoes and salads. As you know, lettuce and rocket are rather fragile and wilt easily and so I thought adding them at the end will help retain their flavour. As this is going to be a chilled soup, I chose olive oil over butter, as butter solidifies at room temperature (not that I used enough for it to matter).
Another good thing to note in these credit crunch times is that lettuce soup is an extremely affordable delicacy. Best of all, it’s a great make ahead recipe, just take it out of the fridge and give it another blitz with a hand blender before serving.
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 potato, finely chopped
- 500ml/17 fl oz/ 2 cups good quality vegetable stock
- 1 bay leaf
- 280g/10 oz lettuce (baby gem)
- 25g or a handful of rocket leaves
- 1 tbsp finely chopped tarragon
- A dollop of labneh
- Place a deep heavy-based pan over medium heat add the olive oil and heat through slightly then add the onions and sauté for 2-3 minutes or until soft and translucent.
- Add the garlic and sauté together for another 2 minutes
- and then add the potatoes and cook for a further 2 minutes
- Pour in the broth and throw in a bay leaf and bring it all to a boil and then let it simmer for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are soft.
- Add the lettuce and rocket leaves and let it cook, covered for a further 10 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and then using a hand blender blitz it all to a puree. Add a dollop of labneh and let it sit to cool for about 1 hour before placing it in the fridge. It will need
- -3 hours of chilling.