Springtime means lettuce at its freshest. Hence this soup.
The name says “creamy,” but that doesn’t mean heavy. We add just a touch of cream (which you can omit if you want). So this is almost a diet dish!
Because if it’s spring, swimsuit season is just around the corner. Enough said.
This dish is not overly rich. That’s because, although it does contain a small amount of cream, nearly all the texture comes from potato that’s cooked and then puréed in the soup.
Prep time for this dish is about 10 minutes. Cooking time adds around 25 minutes.
This recipe yields 4 to 6 first-course servings.
You can prepare this soup a day ahead if you wish, then refrigerate it in an airtight container. Serve it hot or chilled – see Notes
- 2 tablespoons butter (may substitute olive oil)
- 1 medium onion, diced
- ~½ teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste (see Notes)
- 1 to 2 cloves garlic, diced finely or sliced thinly (to taste)
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme (or to taste; see Notes)
- 10 to 12 ounces diced potato
- 4 cups chicken stock (may substitute vegetable stock)
- ~16 ounces lettuce, cleaned, cored, and torn into large pieces (any variety except iceberg; see Notes)
- ¼ to ½ cup heavy cream (may omit; see Notes)
- 1 to 2 teaspoons lemon juice (optional; see Notes)
- garnish of lemon twist, chopped parsley or mint, or a dollop of sour cream (optional)
- Place a 4-quart soup pot on medium stovetop heat, then add the butter. When the butter is melted, add the chopped onion, season to taste with salt, then sauté for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 additional minute.
- Add the dried thyme, diced potato, and chicken stock. Bring the mixture to a simmer, then cook until the potato is soft (maybe 15 minutes, though it depends on the size of the potato pieces).
- Add the lettuce, then bring the mixture to a simmer again. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes – until the lettuce is just tender.
- Use an immersion blender to purée the soup (you can leave it a bit chunky if you prefer, though we think this soup is better with a smoother texture). Add as much cream as you like, then stir to incorporate. Cook for 1 minute to warm the mixture. Taste the soup, then adjust the seasoning if necessary – or add a bit of lemon juice (we think this brightens the flavor).
- Ladle the soup and serve. Garnish is optional. But a slice of lemon or some chopped parsley or mint adds a festive note. A dollop of sour cream would also work.
- What type of lettuce to use? We prefer romaine and/or bibb (and generally use a combination of the two). But almost any variety of lettuce will work. We’d stay away from iceberg, though. It has great crunch (a quality that’s lost in this dish), but little flavor.
- The more cream you add, the richer the soup will be. We think minimal cream is best – so we use about ¼ cup (just enough to enhance the smoothness of the soup). A hint of cream flavor seems sufficient to us.
- Don’t want to use sweet cream? You could try sour cream, or even yogurt (Greek yogurt might be particularly nice). If you go this route, you probably won’t need to add lemon (because both sour cream and yogurt add tang).
- Prefer a vegan soup? Just use olive oil instead of butter, omit the dairy, and use vegetable stock.
- We generally serve this soup hot, but it’s also good when chilled. If you want to serve it cold, you’ll need to prepare the soup ahead of time and refrigerate. You might also want to add a bit more cream in Step 4 – we think this makes for a better-flavored cold soup.
- What kind of potato to use? Either a waxy (boiling) type or a mealy (baking) type – whatever you have on hand. We think Yukon Golds add nice flavor, so that’s what we tend to use.
- Don’t have an immersion blender? Just let the soup cool a bit, then purée it in batches in a food processor or blender. Then reheat the soup before serving (whenever we reheat, we always taste again and adjust the seasoning if necessary).
- BTW, if using an immersion blender, make sure to use one that has a metal (not plastic) shaft. Plastic shafts can crack in hot liquid (guess how we know).
- We like to use dried thyme in this dish. But fresh thyme or tarragon would also work. As would oregano. And fresh mint would be quite nice.
- Speaking of mint: If you make this soup with mint and add peas, you’ll have an approximation of Potage Saint-Germain, a classic French soup. (If you go this route, we’d use frozen peas and add them with the lettuce.)
- We use kosher salt in cooking. It’s less salty by volume than regular table salt (the crystals are larger and more irregular, so they pack a measure less tightly). If you’re using table salt, start with about half the amount we recommend. But always season to your taste, not ours.
Romaines of the Day
“Lettuce in soup?” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “So good! And who knew?”
“It’s unbe-leaf-ably tasty, isn’t it?” I said.
“Lettuce not suffer your wilted jokes again,” said Mrs K R.
“I thought that one was creamy smooth,” I said. “It rose to the top!”
“I declare your humor absent without leaf,” said Mrs K R.
Guess I have the right to romaine silent.
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