Nothing screams spring like tiny leafy greens and green garlic. And yes, they can make a yummy soup. At first squint, one might not think this soup would be as tasty the next day, but it certainly is.
(In case you don’t know, green garlic—also called garlic scapes or whistles—refers the long, curly shoots bearing immature flower clusters that form on hardneck garlic plants in early summer before the bulb is fully formed. [And, to add to the confusion, green garlic is sometimes also sold as whole plants with the slim white bulbs attached under the same name.] It’s not as pungent as the familiar bulb garlic but it still bears that same unmistakable flavor and aroma, and it’s a fleeting taste treat at this time of the year, often for only a few weeks. —M. L.)
Lettuce Soup with a Lotta Green Garlic
2 tablespoons good-tasting extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, any color, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 stalk or bulb green garlic, trimmed and coarsely chopped
½ cup uncooked rice, any kind
7 cups organic chicken or vegetable stock
½ cup minced fresh parsley leaves
1 bouquet garni (a bay leaf and a few sprigs of parsley and thyme, tied with kitchen string)
12 ounces lettuce leaves (about 8 cups), any kind, washed and coarsely chopped
Sea salt to taste
A generous amount of freshly ground black pepper
2 additional tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley or fresh chives for garnish
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish
- Wipe a large soup pot with the oil until it is covered in a thin film, pour in the rest of the oil, and heat the pot over medium-high heat until the oil shimmers. Sauté the onion until soft, about 6 minutes. Add the green garlic and continue cooking until it turns fragrant, another minute or two.
- Add the rice, stock, parsley leaves, and bouquet garni; bring them all to an irritated boil. Reduce the heat to low; then add the lettuce and salt. Partially cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Check the rice periodically for doneness, especially if you are using brown or wild-rice blends.
- Remove and discard the bouquet garni. Blend the soup in batches until it is smooth and return to the pot with lots of pepper. Heat for 1 minute over medium-low heat to meld the flavors.
- At this point, the soup can either be served immediately or go into the fridge for reheating the next day (if the latter, add a little broth first to soften it).
- Garnish each bowl with the additional fresh herbs and Parmesan.
Cook’s Tips and Tricks: If you’re using a lidded countertop blender instead of an immersion blender, it is important to fill the blender only half full, as the heat will cause the soup to expand during blending. Cover the blender with a kitchen towel and hold the lid down.
Deborah DeBord, Ph.D
Picked at the Peak