LETTUCE & PEA SOUP with Popped Pumpkin Seeds

Lettuce & Pea Soup with Popped Pumpkin Seeds

The secret to great soup is in the stock. I make my own from leftover roasted chicken bones and vegetable offcuts. I keep these in sturdy bags in the freezer, one for chicken bones and another for offcuts such as onion skins, leek greens, carrot peels, celery leaves, kale stalks, and mushroom trimmings. To make stock, I place 2-3 chicken carcasses and a large handful of offcuts in a large pot. Cover with about three litres water and simmer gently for 2-3 hours (or use a pressure cooker for one hour). Cool, strain and freeze into 500ml or 1-litre containers. To make 100 per cent vegetable stock use two large handfuls of frozen offcuts and two litres of water.
Servings 4
Prep Time 30 minutes


  • 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.

Join the Conversation

  1. So does this still work well for lettuce that has gone “tough” from being in the ground for much too long??

    1. Sure does, perfect use for them in fact 😉

  2. Michelle Loo says:

    I made this last night and accompanied it with some soudough, some steamed broccoli and beans, and some yams stir fried with butter, seasoned with salt and pepper – the entire meal was absolutely delicious! The toasted pumpkin seeds gave it extra texture and a beautiful nutty flavour. A perfect vegetarian meal (I’m always looking for great tried and tested vegetarian meals as I try to move our family away from eating “too much” meat). I’ve always loved your recipes and cooking style, ever since your book – Feeding Little Tummies – came out. I’m an avid fan of yours and will continue to be forever. Thank you!

    1. Hi Michelle, that sounds like a fantastic meal. I aim to cook a veggie based meal 3-4 times a week, although we do eat meat I like to let the veggies shine and be the base of the meal!
      And thanks for the lovely feedback, I still hear from readers how much they love and still use Feeding Little Tummies. We did look at re-publishing it last year but sadly didn’t come about. At least I have this website and new books and publications to share my recipes.
      Happy cooking!

  3. Hi Nicola, I made this soup today using a bunch of asparagus that needed using instead of peas and stock made out of asparagus ends id saved in the freezer. Delicious!

    1. Hi Nicky, what a great idea. Asparagus would be perfect in this soup. I love this idea!

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