When we lived in Andorra a friend of mine had a long-standing, continuous argument with the green grocer near her apartment.
The produce was never fresh.
There was a lovely market just across the border in Spain twice a week. It was only about 10 miles from the border, but with the hordes of shoppers in and out of Andorra most days, it could be a horrendous trip. The little grocer was just down the street.
The problem was clear to her and anyone familiar with Economics, 101. She just couldn’t convince the owners. It was this: the lettuce, fruits and vegetables that were on the sidewalk for sale were old, wrinkly, gone off, wilted. In the back there was new, lovely, fresh, crisp produce. She could see it.
She just couldn’t get to it.
The owner wouldn’t move the good stuff up front for sale until the old stuff sold. But the old stuff never sold because it was, well, old and awful. Eventually, it rotted and got thrown out. Now the stuff in back could be moved up but by this time it was old, wrinkly, over-ripe, wilted. When it was moved up new fresh produce replaced it in back, waiting it’s turn to wilt and be moved up front for non-sale.
Obviously they sold enough of the old veg to keep their shop open. We assumed it was bought by the old, black-garbed widows, to make soup. We know it wasn’t sold to the young, health conscious vegetarians for salads!
Soup, like any, other food, can benefit from fresh vegetables, but it has long been a dumping ground, a ‘just before the compost pile’ place to put the last odd bits lurking in the fridge or root cellar.
All that being said, I planted too much lettuce! I didn’t plant more than normal but it was way too much for the cool summer we’ve been having. It just keeps growing. I’m convinced that Jesus fed the hordes with loaves, fishes and lettuce!
What to do with too much lettuce? Before it hits the compost pile?
You could pick a bouquet of it for a centerpiece.
Or …… make soup!
Lettuce is full of fiber, has vitamin C, beta carotene, folic acid and potassium, all good for the heart, blood, arteries and useful in maintaining low cholesterol. The darker and more colorful the lettuce the healthier it is. All colors of romaine (I have the typical dark green plus a deep red and a mottled red and green) are especially full of nutrients while the old restaurant standby, iceberg is probably the least. I like planting a mix. The photo is of mixed leaf lettuce. It’s getting ready to bolt but the mixed romaine is just reaching perfect picking size so we’ll be in salads for some weeks to come.
Not to mention the soup:
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
4 cups shredded lettuce use outer or less than perfect leaves
1 – 2 tbs fresh tarragon
1 small – medium potato about 1/2 cup chopped
1 tbs olive oil
2 tbs fresh snipped basil
4 tsp plain yogurt or sour cream
2 slices bacon, fried crisp and crumbled
Chop shallot and potato. Heat oil in saucepan and sauté shallot for 2 minutes. Add potato, stock and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer 15 minutes. Chop or shred the lettuce. Snip tarragon. Uncover the saucepan and stir in the lettuce and tarragon. When lettuce has wilted (almost immediately) remove from heat and purée in a blender. Set aside to cool to room temperature or refrigerate for colder. Fry bacon until crisp. Remove, drain on paper towel and crumble. When ready to serve ladle into bowls, dollop 2 tsp of yogurt onto each serving, sprinkle with bacon, basil and serve.
Note: This soup can be made ahead and served cold, straight from the fridge.
Note 2: When I made this I didn’t use potato but thickened it with 1 tbs cornstarch (like I do Hot and Sour Soup). I think the potato will smooth out the flavors and give a better ‘feel’ to it.
Don’t forget to visit Food Blogga on Monday for Susan’s recap of what’s cooking around the the veggie/herbie world!