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Lettuce Make Soup

Make lettuce soup from uneaten salad

That bowl of leftover salad can be the basis for a satisfying lettuce soup

I thought I knew a lot about making soup. Been doing it for years. But last evening after dinner I learned a new trick:  it’s possible to make the best tasting soup from…lettuce!  (Who knew?)

Got Lettuce Wilting in the Fridge?

I had some leftover arugula and endive salad for dinner last night.  Instead of transferring it to the fridge where I knew it wouldn’t be so good to eat the next day, I decided to use it to make soup.

No real recipe. I just followed my instincts.  Here’s what I did.  Try it at home if you’re adventurous — or scroll below for two recipes that look great too.food waste survey icon

I poured off the dressing, then dropped the leftover arugula and endive salad into a sauce pan. I then added a little cream and a couple of chicken bouillon cubes (of course, if you have chicken stock on hand, that’s preferable). Since I didn’t have so much arugula and endive left, I then threw in the rest of some fresh ruby lettuce that I happened to have on hand, followed by the bunch of spinach from the crisper drawer that just had a day or two left. (Making soup is a great way to use up overripe veggies.)

Once it had all cooked a bit, I dropped my magical ‘electric wand’ into the pot and mixed it all up. After that, I added a little sautéed onion, and thickened it all with a little flour and some cornstarch.

Voila, excellent lettuce soup!  No leftover taste here. Why, you’d think I‘d made it fresh!

Turns out there really is such a thing as lettuce soup! Got some wilting lettuce in the fridge, or even a little leftover salad yourself?  Try these two recipes, one from Emeril Lagasse, the other from Slovakia using sausages.

Two More Great Recipes for Making Lettuce Soup

From Emeril Lagasse, Soup Made from Two Heads of Boston Lettuce

Lettuce Soup Made from Emeril Lagasse's Recipe

Emeril Lagasse’s Lettuce Soup (Credit: Food Network)

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup sliced onion
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1 tablespoon chopped parsley leaves, plus more for garnishing
1 tablespoon chopped chives, plus more for garnishing
2 teaspoons chopped tarragon leaves, plus more for garnishing
2 heads Boston lettuce, leaves torn
3 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream or evaporated milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Chive blossoms, for garnishing, optional

Directions for Making Emeril Lagasse’s Lettuce Soup

Heat olive oil over medium-low heat in a large saucepan. When hot add the onions and garlic and cook until the onion is translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the parsley, chives, tarragon and lettuce and stir until the lettuce is completely wilted, about 3 minutes. Add the chicken stock and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes.

When ready to serve, process the soup, in batches, taking care since the soup is hot, then return to a clean saucepan. Stir in the heavy cream or evaporated milk and the salt and pepper and simmer for another 5 minutes, or until heated through. Adjust seasoning, if necessary, and serve immediately, garnished with fresh herbs and chive blossoms, if desired.

Lettuce Vegetable Soup Recipe from Slovakia

Slovak lettuce soup made with sausages (Credit: Soupchick.com)

From Slovakia, Soup Made from Iceberg Lettuce and Sausages

Ingredients

4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons butter or bacon drippings
2 1/2 cups chicken broth or water
2 1/2 cups milk or 2 cups milk + 1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
1 head chopped iceberg lettuce
2 tablespoons sugar
5 tablespoons vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill, or to taste
Salt to taste

Directions for Making Slovakian Lettuce Soup

In a medium saucepan, make a roux by melting butter or bacon drippings with 4 tablespoons flour and cooking until flour is light brown. Stir in broth or water and bring to a boil. Whisk together 1 teaspoon flour and milk, and add to saucepan. Simmer a few minutes.

Add lettuce, vinegar, sugar and dill. Bring to a boil and turn off heat. Adjust seasonings and serve in heated bowls with optional hard-cooked eggs, skinned and sliced smoked sausage, bacon bits, and mashed potatoes, if desired. Garnish with a sprig of dill.

Tell Us About Your Experiences Making These Delicious Lettuce Soups

Jacquelyn Ottman's book, If Trash Could Talk, inspires a new consumption culture in NYC.

Jacquelyn Ottman’s book, If Trash Could Talk, inspires a new consumption culture in NYC.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could help reduce all that salad and lettuce that goes to waste? Please let me know how you like these recipes, or share some of your own. What other ideas might you have for making sure that leftover salad doesn’t go to waste?

About the Author
A waste watcher since age four, Jacquie Ottman is on a mission to change consumption culture in NYC through the prism of zero waste. A noted consultant and speaker, she volunteers as the founding chair, Residential Recycling and Reuse Committee of the Manhattan Solid Waste Advisory Board. Since 1989, she has been showing Fortune 500 companies and the U.S. government how to develop and market products that can meet consumer needs more sustainably. An expert on green marketing and a certified creative problem-solving facilitator, she's the author of 5 award-winning books. Read more about Jacquie HERE, and check out her other posts.
  1. Siobhan Reply

    Thank you! I always have left over greens, so I’ll keep your recipe in mind. Last night I sauteed an onion, added vegetable broth (2 cups), a pinch of salt, 3 sliced sausages and some spinach, collard greens, mustard greens and turnip greens that were about to go bad, it was delicious! I love eating fresh fruits and vegetables and it’s great to have new tips on what to do with the scraps.

  2. Michael Graham Reply

    Hi Jacquie,
    Very interesting. Make sense to not waste lettuce or salad, but wasting lettuces and salad rarely happens around me. (You should see the amount of salad I put away at a meal!) But if I do have leftover dressed salad, and don’t eat it for a snack…., I do what Aunt Jean did.
    Aunt Jean, (Jean Burke) loved salad and also ate huge bowls of it. But sometimes there was leftover dressed salad. She saved it and just whirled in the blender the next day. A sort of cold salad gazpacho!
    I often throw greens in my cooked soups. Usually collards and/or kale, but sometimes chicory, romaine and escarole. Never thought of using lettuce. The recipes look great!
    Best wishes for more August!
    Peace, Mike

  3. Jacquie Ottman Reply

    Mike,
    Love Aunt Jean’s idea of turning uneaten dressed salad into cold gazpacho in the blender. I have to remember that one!
    Also, I’ll have to be more adventurous in the kinds of greens I put in my soups. I ALWAYS put fresh spinach into chicken soup just before serving. Adds wonderful color and lots of flavor. (I was inspired by all the spinach I used to see floating in the wonton soup in the Cantonese restaurants I went to as a kid.) We have access to all kinds of wonderful greens here at the NYC green markets. Thanks for expanding my greens horizons!

  4. Barbara Dilley Reply

    Make Asian version of lettuce soup to go with leftover dumplings. Stock diluted with water, ginger,cilantro leaves, thin sliced romaine lettuce, only 2-3 min boiling and at the end some more cilantro.

  5. Pingback: No Leftovers Left Behind – No Food Left Behind -Corvallis

  6. beergas Reply

    Nice. Started using common iceberg head lettuce a few months back. Now that fall & winter at hand it’s time to jazz this puppy away from chilled end result of summer into the warmth time frame.
    Sausage is fine, nearly any quickish meat works as well as the full veggie route. I’ve added canned beans along with the article’s mentions. Adding an egg or two into the mix can add some body and indirect flavor. Turmeric can add some immune punch, some dark honey just to bind the whole mix. Seasoned bread crumbs and rice vinegar (or old fave apple cider) for variety. Oriental rice noodles are fun but only add toward very end as they cook way fast and more interesting when still have nice rubbery texture.
    Tons of things can be use in various ways like chicken or beef chunks. Tried sea food but except for sea scallops, not so much success with basic fish.
    Didn’t use any alcohol. Have to expand horizons but thanks for reminder.

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