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GARDEN FRESH

What’s cooking today: Lettuce, pea and courgette soup

What’s cooking today: Lettuce, pea and courgette soup
Tony Jackman’s lettuce, courgette and pea soup. (Photo: Tony Jackman)

The peas and lettuce for this soup both came out of my late winter garden. Soon they’ll be out of the ground to make way for spring and summer vegetables.

Lettuce may seem an odd ingredient for a soup but it works a treat, and can be paired with other vegetables such as peas and courgettes.

Courgettes are not in season yet (they’re due for planting any day now to yield a December-January crop although their season is long and can go well into the new year), but the delight that is a zucchini or baby marrow is readily available in vegetable shops year-round. In fact, I’ll be planting courgettes soon. They’re one of the most rewarding vegetable crops to grow.

Peas and lettuce are often paired in a soup, but the addition of courgettes is my own invention and it worked well.

This makes a departure from the common-or-garden vegetable soup made of almost everything you find in your crisper, from carrots and celery to tomatoes and onions. Sometimes it’s better to target specific vegetables and combinations, to come out with a more defined flavour.

Fresh garden peas will take longer to tenderise than frozen peas, as vegetables are blanched before being frozen for commercial use. (That’s why frozen peas are bright green; the blanching spikes their colour.)

There is onion and celery in it, but only as a backdrop to the vegetables taking centre stage.

(Serves 4

Ingredients

1 onion, chopped

2 celery stalks, diced

3 garlic cloves, chopped

2 Tbsp butter

1 punnet of courgettes, topped and tailed and sliced

4 cups green lettuce, shredded

700 g frozen peas or fresh from the garden, picked from their pods

1.5 litres vegetable stock (I used 4 sachets of Ina Paarman stock dissolved 1.5 l in boiling water)

200 ml fresh cream

Salt and white pepper to taste

Method

Wash the lettuce in cold water, shake off excess water and put it in a colander to drain. Shred it.

Sauté the chopped onion, celery and garlic in butter until softened. Add the sliced courgettes and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for five minutes.

Add the stock and the peas, bring to a good simmer, and cook gently until the peas have become tender. 

Add the lettuce and cook for a minute or two. Season to taste with salt and white pepper.

Blend with a handheld blender or in a food processor.

Add the cream and bring to a simmer, then cook for three or four minutes more.

Serve garnished with a sprig of any bright green herb. DM

Follow Tony Jackman on Instagram @tony_jackman_cooks.

This dish is photographed in wares by Mervyn Gers Ceramics.

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