Lettuce soup with pea and soft herbs
A stellar early summer soup, as good hot as it is cold. You can, of course, use frozen peas, too: just cook them for a few minutes less.
Heat the oil in a saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion, celery and garlic and a good pinch of salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and sweet: this should take about five to seven minutes.
Next, add the stock; taste and add salt if needed, then bring to a simmer and cook for five minutes.
Add the peas and cook until soft and sweet – about five minutes – before adding the lettuce. Push the lettuce under the liquid as much as you can, cover and simmer for another two minutes, giving the lettuce time to wilt, then turn off the heat and add the herbs.
Use a hand blender or a jug blender to whizz the soup until it’s as smooth as you like it, thinning with a little more hot stock, if you like. Taste and add more salt and pepper – or even a squeeze of lemon if you think it needs some sharpness.
Either return the soup to the pan to keep warm, or let it cool, then chill for a few hours until it’s cold. If serving chilled, check the seasoning again before serving, because it may need more salt.
I like to serve mine topped with a swirl of yoghurt, a few drops of olive oil, a few more fresh peas, sliced radishes and a tangle of pea shoots.