Spring has well and truly sprung in my part of the world and, after the dreariness of winter, the arrival of new growth and the abundance of all things green is definitely a welcome sight. Tender lettuce leaves and the first of the season's asparagus send me rushing to the kitchen with new enthusiasm, ready to create dishes with the lightness and lushness that befits the season.
Like most other parts of the world, however, spring here in New Zealand can be a pretty changeable affair - weatherwise anyway. Warm, sunny days one minute - cooler, drizzly days the next. It was such a day today - cool and gloomy. Just perfect for a nice bowl of soup for lunch, but a soup on the lighter side, a soup that positively screams spring.
This week at I Heart Cooking Clubs, we're ladling it up, making Nigel Slater soups, stews, curries and other bowlfuls of goodness. Nigel's "Soup of lettuce and peas" from Tender, vol. I, made the perfect lunch for today. I reduced the original recipe a bit, since I had no need to feed six people. This amount was just right to give me two good sized bowls today, and enough left over to take to work for my lunch tomorrow. In other changes, I swapped in some leek instead of shallot, used parsley instead of mint, and finished things off with a swirl of coconut cream since I have some left over from last night's Shrimp & Curried Coconut Risotto (one of my favourite old recipes that I come back to time and time again). In hindsight, I think a little grated lemon zest and a spritz of fresh lemon juice would work well here too.
This recipe is ridiculously quick and easy to make, deliciously fresh, and light enough that you could actually serve this as part of a multi-course meal. I seldom have soup other than as a meal in it's own right, but this one could definitely fit into a bigger meal without filling you up too much. It's pretty and elegant, and I wouldn't hesitate to serve this to company. I hope you'll give it a try.
Pea & Lettuce Soup Recipe
Adapted from recipe by Nigel Slater
from Tender, Vol. I
Click here for the free recipe card
1/2 an iceberg lettuce (or other lettuce of your choice)
generous knob of butter
1/2 a small leek, thinly sliced
1-1/2 cups frozen peas
2 cups vegetable stock
large handful of flat-leaf parsley
flaky sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
coconut cream to finish
Separate lettuce leaves, wash thoroughly, and set aside.
Melt butter in a medium-sized saucepan. Add leek to the pan and saute until they have begun to soften, but not brown.
Roughly chop or tear the lettuce and add to the pan, stirring occasionally. As soon as the lettuce begins to wilt, add the peas, stock and parsley. Season with salt and pepper.
Bring to the boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 7-10 minutes, until the peas are cooked through and the lettuce is thoroughly wilted.
Remove from heat, and blitz until smooth either in a blender or using a stick blender. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.
Serve immediately, and finish with a drizzle of coconut cream.
If you would like to get to know Nigel Slater a little better, and to see what everyone else has cooked up this week, then do go and visit my friends at I Heart Cooking Clubs and check out the links ...
... or check out Tender, Vol. 1 and Nigel's many other great titles available from Amazon USA, Amazon UK, or Fishpond NZ.
I'll also be sharing this post this week at See Ya In the Gumbo hosted by the delightful Michelle at Ms. enPlace, at Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays hosted by my lovely friend Deb at Kahakai Kitchen, at Weekend Cooking hosted by Beth Fish Reads, and at Foodie Fridays hosted by Designs by Gollum.