In summer I manage to grow most of my own salad leaves. I pick what I need and never have leftovers (or if I do, the snails are just very grateful. But, with no greenhouse, once autumn kicks in, I’m forced into buying salads from the supermarket – bags of rocket and mixed salad, little gem, iceberg and romaine. Once I’ve garnished a dish or made a side salad, there are inevitably leftovers. Festering in the fridge they quickly start to lose the will to live – or at least the ability to add anything positive to a plate of fresh food. Perfectly edible and even within their best before date, they just need treating differently. That’s where salad soup comes in – the perfect way to save those wilting lettuce leaves and bring them back to life!
At this time of year, in any case, I’m looking for warming comfort food rather than meagre salads. Soup is my staple lunch with a base of homemade chicken stock and a whole range of different pulses, vegetables and (occasionally) bits of meat and fish. This salad soup is the perfect way to make the most of those leftover bits of salad in your chiller and still have a hearty and satisfying lunch. In addition to some kind of stock, you’ll need one potato and a medium-sized brown onion. And then whatever you can raid from your salad chiller. I’d recommend some rocket – it adds a light but peppery note. ‘Soft’ leaves – spinach, little gem and more – will work fine as will romaine and iceberg. The point is variety. I also add in any leftover vegetable stalks and shavings.
Here’s the basic recipe – but do feel free to adapt it to whatever combination of leafy greens you have. One piece of advice is not to add carrots, tomatoes or anything red unless you want to end up with a pink soup. You can easily make this vegetarian by using vegetable stock and for a vegan version, of course, you need to omit the creme fraiche. You can also mix it up by adding small pieces of chicken or ham after blending and just warming the dish through.
- I use a pressure cooker for this. Not essential
- Stick/wand blender or liquidiser
- 1 ltr stock I use home made chicken stock or vegetable stock made with marigold bouillon
- 1 medium potato
- 1 medium brown onion
- 250-350 g salad leaves or greens Try to include some rocket or mustard greens for the peppery notes. Baby spinach and all kinds of lettuce work well. I also add the stalks from kale, broccoli etc.
- salt and pepper to taste
- creme fraiche optional
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Peel and chop the onion and potato
- Add to the pressure cooker or saucepan with about a tablespoon of olive oil
- Saute on low to medium for 8-10 minutes until the potato starts to soften and the onion is transparent
- Chop or tear all the vegetables roughly
- Add them to the pan and wilt down for 30 seconds
- Season with salt and pepper
- Pour over the stock and either pressure cook on high for 15 minutes or bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 25-30 minutes until the potato is completely soft
- Use what ever method of liquidising you have chosen to blend everything together
- Taste and adjust the seasoning as required
- I serve this with a dollop of creme fraiche in each bowl. You could use the garnish of your choice - croutons or a sprinkling of grated cheese for example
The nice thing about this soup is that even with the creme fraiche it’s very low in calories but doesn’t feel that way. Low enough to enjoy a hearty chunk of my easy homemade focaccia with it in fact! It will keep well in the fridge for 2-3 days and freeze for a month or so. If you want a thicker soup, just add more potato. You can even use left over mash if you want!