Lettuce & Pea Soup with Popped Pumpkin Seeds
- 20 g butter or olive oil
- 1 small onion finely chopped
- 2 plump garlic cloves chopped
- 1 potato peeled and cubed
- 6 large outer leaves of lettuce or 2-3 whole plants, shredded
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1 litre quality vegetable or chicken stock see note above
- Handful of mint chopped
- Salt and cracked pepper
- Olive oil to serve
Popped Pumpkin seeds
- ½ cup pumpkin seeds
- Splash of tamari or soy sauce
- Heat a large saucepan over a moderate heat. Add the butter/oil and onions and cook for five minutes until softened but not coloured. Add the garlic, potato and lettuce, and cook for one minute until lettuce is wilted.
- Add peas and stock, bring to a boil, and cook for about 15 minutes until potato is tender. Add the mint in the last minute then use a stick blender to puree until smooth. Season to taste. Serve immediately in warmed bowls topped with Popped Pumpkin Seeds and a drizzle of olive oil.
- To make the popped pumpkin seeds, heat a heavy-based skillet over a moderate to high heat with a slick of oil. Add the pumpkin seeds, cover with a lid and cook for 2-3 minutes, shaking regularly while the seeds crackle and pop. Tip on to a plate, drizzle with a dash of tamari or soy sauce and cool.
A seasonal change is in the air. The first blossoms have erupted on the almond tree in the backyard, always the first to bring colour to the garden. The beehive below the almond has sprung to life, the little bees loving the extra hours of sunlight on their home.
There are two things that speak spring to me – magnolia flowers and swallows – both of which can be seen from my kitchen window. A 30-year-old magnolia tree grows up through our deck, providing much needed shade in the summer months.
The welcome swallows return from warmer climes once the bitter cold of winter passes. They have been nesting in our house eaves for eight years. They can be seen circling above the magnolia swooping and diving mid air, and preparing their nest.
Spring is also a time of plentiful edible greens from the garden. Lettuce, coriander, fennel, silverbeet, broad beans, spring onions – relishing the warmth and growing with gusto. After months of meager pickings from my valley garden, I can now gather a salad worth most days, including a selection of wild edible weeds that have seamlessly appeared from nowhere.
If I am not quick, the lettuces can bolt, although I have a trick up my sleeve before they do. Make soup, yes, lettuce soup.
Trust me, it is better than it sounds. Accompanied by green peas to give it bulk and the first shoots of mint that will take over my berry patch before long. It is simple, fresh, and a great way to use up the larger leaves of a supermarket lettuce or a handful of lettuce plants about to reach for the skies.