Wednesday, 31 July 2013
In the Kitchen - Lettuce eat soup
A short respite from the canicule as we were suddenly treated to a few cold and very torrential downpours accompanied, occasionally, by claps of thunder and sparks of lightning, and now we're promised another scorching hot day today.
I'm attempting to address my currently high stress levels with some kitchen-therapy.
Now that the cherries are over, and I have several preserving jars of them soaking in various alcoholic mixes and various small jars filled withe jams and compotes and relishes, now that the cherry season has passed, it's time to cast my eyes around for something else to play with.
So how about lettuces?
I eat them daily in my tuna salad, but liberally doused in Heinz Salad Cream, having been raised in a decade when mayonnaise was considered to be Fancy French Muck, which means that I rarely taste the lettuce leaves. Which is a shame really. So back to my Breton-Days when, even though I had a surfeit of lettuces growing in my garden, several friends in the village sneakily took to leaving their own unloved lettuces in carrier bags on my gate, and the only option to avoid being over-whelmed by lettuces was to make soup from them.
Recipe: The Cyber Tour Guide to Lettuce Soup
2 large Breton onions, peeled and diced
4 fat cloves of garlic from your English neighbour's garden
6 dew-fresh common or garden lettuces
handful of gentle herbs (mint works well) from the pots on the window ledge
4 oz organic Brittany butter, the one with flecks of sea salt
2 oz organic plain flour
2 pints of vegetable stock
1/2 pint organic milk
Fry the onions and crushed garlic in butter until they're soft but take care not to brown the mixture. Sprinkle the flour over pan and stir gently for a minute. Slowly add the stock, stirring gently and then pour in the milk, still stirring and petit à petit bring to the boil. Chop the lettuces and add to the pan with the herbs and salt and pepper according to your taste. (If you used salted butter then you won't need any more salt now).
Let it simmer gently. It will fill your kitchen with fresh, green aromas and endow you with a feeling of health and vitality, while you water the plants or wash the dishes. After around 20 minutes remove the pan from the heat and allow it to cool slightly. Blend in a liquidiser until smooth and silky.
Now you can choose to store the soup in the fridge or, if you REALLY are inundated with lettuces and drastic measures are called-for, freeze it in rigid containers.
If, however, you've just just come in from cutting the grass that's as high as an elephant's eye, with a useless little Flymo, and are in desperate need of a healthy and flavoursome snack, then eat it now with a crusty 'zig-zag loaf' from the village boulangerie
(Quantities given are sufficient for everyone in a small French village)
Now for the science...
The Health Benefits of Lettuce:
Low in calories
A good source of dietary fibre and vitamins A, B, C and K
Contains the minerals potassium, magnesium and calcium
Said to contain folic acid
Reputed to help prevent bone degradation in post-menopausal women