The Heat is On!
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Jane from Clear shares some refreshing foods you can have when the weather is warm in her latest blog.

Summer is here, and as temperatures soar, we find ourselves looking for lighter, fresher food, and what better on a hot, sultry day, than to eat than a lovely plate of cool, refreshing salad. As we are all aware, here in Scotland, the heat doesn’t usually last for long, and we may be left with an abundance of salad in our fridges. Unfortunately, 38,000 tonnes of lettuce (and other vegetables) are thrown away every year, mainly because it has reached its expiry date (WRAP Scotland).

So, if the weather has changed or you simply have an excess of lettuce, how about trying some lettuce soup, rather than throwing it out? Eugh! lettuce soup never heard of it,” is the most common (and polite) response I’ve had to that question. But don’t knock it until you’ve tried it, you may just be very pleasantly surprised!

Lettuce Soup     (Serves 4)

Lettuce soup is a fantastic way to use up lettuce – or any other salad leaves – that might otherwise be wasted. Lovely served hot and equally good chilled for a light summery meal.

Ingredients

1 onion

1 potato

3 parts lettuce

4 parts stock (800ml – 1l)

salt and pepper

2 tbsp oil (any cooking oil, butter or margarine)

To serve (optional)

2–3 tbsp single or double cream

freshly chopped chives, parsley or dill

Method

1.            Heat the oil in a large saucepan and gently fry the onion for 5–10 minutes, or until softened and beginning to brown, stirring regularly.

2.            Add the lettuce and potatoes and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.

3.            Add the stock and bring to a gentle simmer. Cover loosely with a lid and cook for 10–12 minutes, or until the potatoes are very tender, stirring occasionally.

4.            Remove the pan from the heat and blitz using a stick blender until smooth. If the soup is a little thick, add a       splash of just-boiled water. Season to taste with plenty of salt and pepper.

5.            Ladle into warmed bowls and, if you like, top with swirls of cream and chopped herbs.

Recipe Tips

You can use any salad leaves you like. Remove any old or damaged leaves and wash well before cooking. Romaine, Little Gem, iceberg, round lettuce, or bags of mixed leaves all work well. You can also use watercress, spinach, rocket and pak choi.

For a creamier tasting soup, stir in 100ml/3½fl oz milk just before the end of the cooking time.

If you do not have a stick blender, leave the soup to cool for a few minutes before blending in a food processor or upright blender or mash with a potato masher.

To serve chilled, leave the blended soup until cold, then cover and chill in the fridge for 3–4 hours or overnight.

Many different soups can be made using this simple formula. 1.1.3.4. (Ballymalloe).

1 part onion
1 part potato
3 parts any vegetable of your choice, or a mixture
4 parts stock or stock and milk mixed
seasoning

You can use water, chicken or vegetable stock or a combination of stock and milk and season simply with salt and pepper. Herbs or spices may also be added.

So you can make a myriad of different soups depending on what is fresh, in season and available, or simply needs used.

If potatoes and onions are the only options, one can still make two delicious soups by increasing one or the other and then adding one or several herbs. You even use broad bean tops, radish leaves, nettles or wild garlic in season.
Here are some more suggestions:

Minestrone

A great soup to make if you have lots of bits and pieces of vegetables. Any combination will do. Add a few bits of broken spaghetti or pasta, a tin of tomatoes or a few fresh tomatoes (chopped) and ½ the stock. Do not blend.

Pistou

As above but add some cooked beans (any will do e.g., aduki, kidney, borlotti), tinned are ideal. Add a tablespoon of pesto before serving.

Pea & Basil (or Mint)

Frozen peas work brilliantly. Add 1tsp dried basil (or mint) or 1 dsp fresh basil (or mint).

To add more texture, you can add a handful of peas after the soup is liquidised and simmer for a further 3 or 4 minutes before serving.

Cauliflower/ Broccoli (& Cheese)

Fresh or frozen. You could add a handful of grated cheese when cooking. Or for a luxurious touch add a swirl of truffle oil to serve.

Carrot & Coriander

Basic recipe plus ½ – 1tsp ground coriander, you can always add more but you can’t take it away.

To add more texture, you can add another grated carrot after the soup is liquidised and simmer for a further 5 mins. before serving.

Carrot & Celery

Use ½ celery, ½ carrot. Delicious with a swirl of cream.

Carrot, Orange and Tarragon

Add the zest and juice of half an orange and 1 tsp dried tarragon.

(Cream of) Tomato

Use 2 tins of tomatoes instead of stock (you can still add the stock cubes if needed). Or ½ the stock and 1 tin of tomatoes and 1 or 2 cloves garlic (optional). Add a good glug or 2 of cream to turn it into cream of tomato.

Carrot & Coriander

Basic recipe plus ½ – 1tsp ground coriander, you can always add more but you can’t take it away.

To add more texture, you can add another grated carrot after the soup is liquidised and simmer for a further 5 mins. before serving.

Carrot & Celery

Use ½ celery, ½ carrot. Delicious with a swirl of cream.

Borcht (Beetroot)

Add a good glug or vinegar at the end of cooking to really lift the flavour.

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