Playing Cookbooks, Recipe 1 – Hot or Cold Creamy Lettuce Soup

I’m in Chicago right now, working on my incremental move. I’m putting off returning to the bubble wrap and glassware, so I’m doing my first entry on a different type of playing cookbooks – gonna post my notations on a recipe I made.

Fella didn’t have a dinner plan for Sunday night, but he did have a huge box of spring greens that he was concerned he was not going to be able to eat before they went bad (it was a substitution, and larger than his original choice, a hazard of food delivery). I remembered having saved a lettuce soup recipe to try.  Could not locate the one I had in mind, so I looked for one, and found Hot or Cold Creamy Lettuce Soup from the Serious Eats website.  It’s not one of Alton’s, but credited to Daniel Gritzer, culinary director.  Don’t know if that means he worked on the show or just the website, but I don’t really tend to look for the pedigree of recipe creators I find online, though it would be interesting to start. Anyway, we had all the stuff so that’s what I cooked.

I have made enough soup at this point to be confident enough to make some kinds of changes to a recipe on the first try. I do not care about unsalted butter in a non-baking recipe that also calls for adding salt to taste; dry parsley is what we had so I put in a tablespoon of that instead; skipped the garnish but threw in a jalapeño, because there was one handy and Fella just about always likes things hotter than the recipe intends. Technique-wise, I cooked the onion for longer than instructed, about 10 minutes rather than 3, because a lot of blended soups with onions that are only tender have a tiny bit of crunch to them if you bite down, which I believe is due to cell walls that are still intact and thus crisp, and is a texture of which neither of us is particularly fond. Also, every single person should really have a stick blender.  They are super versatile, and immersion is about a thousand times easier than transferring back and forth between the blender and the pot.  That being said, you do give up some speed.  It would have taken a lot longer to reach the actual puree from the recipe image – I don’t think it would have made any meaningful difference to taste or texture in this case, but would have been slightly more aesthetically pleasing.

Based on the ingredients, this is clearly only half a meal, so as the rest of dinner, Fella made pizza.  His mom had gotten him into Bread in 5 Minutes by giving him the book for his birthday (so he was getting into bread way before the pandemic made it the hip new sanity saving exercise), and he went a little bit independent by rolling out the light whole wheat recipe into pizza crusts.  I was mildly dubious but willing to try it, so he made his while I prepped the soup.  There was only a slight wait for the pizza so we ate them at the same time.

The verdict: It’s all right. Fella says: “Wasn’t a huge fan. It was ok but I wouldn’t make it again.” The recipe name is misleading, as this dish is not creamy in any way.  I’m glad I didn’t notice it there until after I’d made it.  I’d go with grassy.  I think that cooking tender greens as the primary element of a soup is generally going to come out grassy.  The recipe calls this flavor fresh-tasting, but I mean, grass is fresh-smelling, so.  That isn’t a complaint, as I enjoy that taste well enough; it’s just about using the words that will be closest to the description. It reminded me of Herb Soop, a soup from a handwritten cookbook from the late 18th or early 19th century. I made it for a soup party a few years ago, and it went over pretty well.  For the record, it was also grassy.

The jalapeño benefitted this dish, and even so, the flavor was so light and delicate that it disappeared into the flavors of my cheese-and-barely-any-green-olives pizza.  This is a soup to eat as a separate course, and I think better followed by a meat-based protein than dairy.  Also, the pizza crust absolutely knocked it out of the park, but I should probably learn how to make pizza sauce from scratch.

Final quick note – using a spring greens mix, which often has a high component of purple “greens,” gives you a very reddish brown.  I think it’s nice-looking in its own way, but some may find this to be less appetizing than the one pictured in the recipe.

2020-04-28 20.40.28 cropped

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