My grandmothers looked upon green leafy vegetables as good candidates for soup. But I thought they went too far when I watched them making soup from lettuce! They used bitter lettuce, but I have changed their recipe and use romaine. This is a refreshing soup in the summer, but since the ingredients are available year-round, you can enjoy it any time.
2 heads (2 pounds total) romaine lettuce
6 ounces fresh green beans, cut into thirds (about 2 cups)
1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
1 1/2 cups cubed bread slices
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter
1 shallot, diced
1/2 cup King Arthur™ Unbleached, All-Purpose Flour
6 cups hot beef broth
2 large egg yolks
1/2 cup heavy cream
2/3 cup grated Asiago or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Remove the cores from the lettuce, tear into pieces, and place in a colander. Rinse the lettuce well and let drain.
Cook the beans in boiling salted water until tender, but not mushy, about 7 minutes. Drain the beans well and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Place the bread cubes on a baking sheet and toast until nicely browned, about 10 minutes. Place in a bowl and set aside.
In a soup pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the shallot and sauté until limp but not brown. Sprinkle on the flour and mix with a wooden spoon until incorporated. Mixture will appear pasty but will smooth out. Add the hot broth and continue to stir with a whisk until the mixture begins to boil. Add the lettuce, stir the mixture well, lower the heat, cover the pot, and cook for 35 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Place the soup in a food processor or blender in batches and process until smooth. Return the soup to the pot and keep warm over low heat.
In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and cream. Add 1 cup of the soup to the egg mixture and whisk to blend. Add the egg mixture to the soup pot and whisk for about 4 or 5 minutes. Add the beans, cheese, nutmeg, and remaining salt to the soup and stir well.
To serve, ladle the hot soup into individual bowls, sprinkle a few toasted bread cubes on top of each, and serve at once.
The recipe is from NELLA CUCINA by Mary Ann Esposito, published by William Morrow and Company Inc., in 1993.
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