Buying a head of lettuce (or a clamshell of baby greens) makes you a good person. Or maybe just someone with good intentions. At the very least, it makes you a person who's committing to eating some kind of salad at some point during the week.
Fast-forward to reality. Your lettuce has been languishing in the fridge for a few days. You're making dinner, and it's just not calling your name. In fact, those leaves are starting to look a little sad. If you wait any longer, the lettuce will go brown and wilty (definitely no longer edible), and you'll be forced to throw out the bag with a twinge of guilt. All those good intentions gone to waste. Literally.
But there's something delicious you can do with those salad greens—even if you're not in the mood for salad. Soup. Yes, soup. Not heavy, rich winter soup, but green, creamy, light summer soup. Salad soup, if you will. Here's how it's done:
Start with a base of aromatics
Like any soup, a summer greens soup relies on a hidden foundation: A base of sautéed chopped onion (or oniony things like scallions, garlic, shallots, leeks, spring onions, or ramps). In your favorite soup pot, start cooking your chosen vegetable(s), along with any celery or carrot you happen to have in the fridge. Might as well use that up too, right?
Sauté the lettuce (and any other green vegetable)
Once your oniony base is nice and golden, it's time to add your washed, roughly torn lettuce leaves. This is also a great moment for that solitary zucchini, or any other green vegetables you have hanging around: trimmed snap peas, garden peas, nettles, green beans, asparagus, chard, broccoli. A rough chop is all they need, since you'll be pureeing the soup when it's done cooking. Cook the vegetables, stirring often, until they start to wilt and their color brightens.
Add your broth
Now it's time to actually cook the vegetables through. Pour in enough chicken or vegetable broth to cover (pick the low-sodium version so you can control the seasoning level yourself), bring to a simmer, and cook gently until the vegetables are just cooked through.
Puree, season, and swirl
At this point, what you'll see in your pot is a bunch of brothy green vegetables and wilty greens—not a particularly pretty sight. But keep the faith. Once you place an immersion blender in the pot (or puree it in batches in a blender once slightly cooled), you'll see a silky green puree emerge. Don't blend it too finely—you still want a bit of texture in there. Taste and season with salt and pepper, then ladle into bowls or let cool to room temperature (it's also delicious chilled). Now all that's left to do is to top every bowl with a swirl of sour cream or plain yogurt, a drizzle of olive oil, and a sprinkle whatever herbs you have handy—parsley, chives, tarragon, etc. Because this is a "salad soup," remember? So it needs a "dressing."
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