I have always considered myself quite a nice person. I like food of all shapes, flavours and colours. From every country and continent. I don’t discriminate, I am an equal opportunity eater. It’s only the doctors who say I’m intolerant. And certain foods who refuse to tolerate me. They certainly refuse to recognise and respect my right to eat them without major physical discomfort and distress.

Gluten and lactose are not my friends.

Despite the negative attitudes surrounding me from many of those I love best, (cakes, ice cream, hot toast) I decided to become a chef. Not always easy when you live in a bread and milk filled world. I like to think that this has helped me become a better person as I embrace my differences and refuse to let the gluten get me down. I believe InTolerance. I am the InTolerant Chef.

Food should not be about what you can’t eat, but what you can and what you enjoy eating. This blog is about my journey of cooking and eating and discovery. It’s not a definitive guide to allergy awareness nor do my intolerances make me an expert. Your body is your responsibility, not mine. I only know what works for me.

I can tell you this..... No glutens were harmed in the making of this website.

September 30, 2011

Sweet Pea Soup For Spring

Spring, what Spring?

That's the feeling here in cold, cloudy Canberra at the moment.

Our long awaited long-weekend promises wind, rain and sundry other nasties instead of soft Spring sunshine and open windows. Sigh...

To combat the blues that the weather is bringing, I decided to cook some greens to lift my spirits and remind me that Spring is really here.

Fresh little peas and crisp, sweet lettuce are some of the delights of the season. It's a bit early still in my garden, but the local markets are bursting at the seams with fresh veggies just waiting to be consumed by healthy appetites.

In a brave move away from stick-to-your-ribs hearty winter meals, I decided to go with a soup I first made for one of my apprenticeship exams, Fresh Pea and Lettuce Soup. Lovely and light, soft and silky, fresh and fabulous! The perfect light lunch or first course for a Spring feast.

Now, don't screw up your nose at cooked lettuce. Just because you haven't tried it before doesn't mean it isn't any good. Trust me. There are references to lettuce soup in ancient Roman cookbooks, and even Escoffier included several recipes in his repertoire. So with a pedigree like that, you might want to be brave and give it a go yourself.

Fresh Pea and Lettuce Soup

500g fresh garden peas
(or you can use frozen, just don't tell anyone)
Half a head of lettuce
1 white onion
500ml chicken stock
100-250ml lactose free cream
Few stems of mint
1/2 - 1 tsp white castor sugar

Chop the white onion quite small, and sweat it down in a splash of oil or butter. You don't want to brown it at all, just cook it down slowly to soften it and bring out the natural sweetness. When it's about halfway done I like to pop in a couple of stems of mint and let them wilt down too as they release their flavour. Pull out the stems before the next step.

Pour in the stock, bring to the simmer, then add in the peas. The tender peas shouldn't really need cooking, just heating all the way through. Try not to let them boil away as we want to keep a vibrant flavour and colour.

Once well heated, take it off the heat and add in the shredded lettuce and stir it through. The heat in the stock and peas will quickly wilt the lettuce down. Pop in a dozen or so mint leaves, and the cream - starting with a small amount.

Blend the soup thoroughly. You want a soft silky texture, not gritty from unmashed pea skins. Add in more cream as needed to get a nice light soup.

Taste for seasoning. You'll certainly need the salt to carry the flavours, you might need a pinch or so of sugar to boost the natural sweetness, and if necessary, you could add a tiny splash of WHITE balsamic for a bit of sweet acidity. If this is served cold, you'll need to taste it again after chilling as flavours tend to dampen in the fridge.

I also made some prosciutto shards by baking some slices in the oven until crisp and earthshatteringly crunchy, and some parmesan crisps by piling finely grated shreds onto a baking sheet and baking until just starting to melt together. Just for some gratuitous foodie bling.

I love this soup cold, but it's lovely warm too. Not hot, just nicely warm- the way the sun should be at this time of year. Gentle and mild, like the flavours of the lettuce and peas smoothed out with cream.

A big, thick Winter soup is usually served in a big, thick bowl- but this is a light, fresh Spring soup so I served it in a glass to reflect that - and to thumb my nose at the sleet outside!

So, my Dearest Readers,

have you ever eaten cooked lettuce, and how are you spending your long weekend?


  1. This sounds yummy. I make a Jamie Oliver recipe very similar, but it is not pureed, and thicker served as a side dish - yum! You are so lucky to have lactose free cream! I have never seen it where I live...sigh!

  2. What a comforting creamy soup! Though it is Fall here, this soup should work too :p

  3. Those peas look pretty amazing, seems like someone is already in the mood of spring :) :)

  4. That looks like a great soup, with the bizarre very hot weather we are having here at the moment this would be ideal. GG

  5. YUM!
    It's great to finally see someone from the southern hemisphere mentioning Spring! I keep seeing posts about Autumn/Fall and it's a bit strange when I can see blossom outside my window. Yay for Spring! :D

  6. I know what you mean-some people don't like the idea of cooked lettuce but my mother makes a braised lettuce dish which I love so I know I'd love this! :)

  7. I like cooked lettuce and usually shred some up and chuck in with those 2 minute noodles and add chilli - great quick meal. I have also tried a few wilted lettuce salads.

  8. I've cooked lettuce a few times, sometimes in pea soup, as you did, sometimes with peas as a side veg, sometimes as a 'clean out the fridge anything goes' stir-fry.

    What long weekend?

  9. Tell me about it! "Spring" in Melbourne is just as gloomy and sad. My meal choices are very much dependent on the weather too, haha! Lovely soup and ohhhh emmmm geeeee I can't tell you how much I go WEAK for prosciutto crisps, nice one!! =D

  10. Wow, this looks great, especially with the addition of mint! I'll make this! :D

  11. Cooked lettuce sort of seems a little odd but I loved cooked cucumber so I am sure it will be equally as delicious, lovely green recipe.

    Looks gorgeous!

  12. I'm gonna go with your expert taste here, as I despise peas!!! What about replacing this with carrots? Or anything less pea-like? Yes? No? Sigh... Hahaha

  13. This soup looks great for spring! I love cooked lettuce in wonton soup, I think it's great!

  14. There is nothing better than making soup from your favourite vegetable!

  15. Thanks for this lovely fresh spring soup recipe. I love a sweet green pea soup and the idea of the lettuce in it is very appealing. Still chilly in the Adelaide Hills , so still soup weather!

  16. I've never tried pea soup, but it looks so simple and healthy.. might have to give it a go:)

  17. I dont mind cooked lettuce actually. A little baby cos sauteed in some butter...yum!! This looks so fab! Love the prosciutto garnish!

  18. Looks so crisp and fresh! I have stir fried lettuce before and it was lovely.

  19. This looks so fresh and clean! Perfect for Spring. I have had stir fried lettuce before but never in a soup. Sounds fantastic

  20. Despite the rain outside, I feel Spring is almost here. My veggie garden is weeded and ready to plant, my packets of seed are bought, and lettuce is one of the first crops ready to pick- just right for my soup!

    Ina- That sounds yummy too. I can get Liddels UHT lactose free cream, and Zymil have just released a fresh lactose free cream too. Or can you get the lactase drops from the chemist to make your own?

    Tigerfish- It should work perfectly! There's something so homey about soup isn't there?

    Chopinandmysaucepan- I'm definitely in the mood for Spring, I'm ready to shed my winter cocoon!

    GG- Hope it hits the spot. You probably think we're crazy for complaining about the cooler weather :)

    Theresa- It is funny that they have it all backwards! :) I think we're going straight from Winter to Summer!

    Lorraine- Maybe it's a textural thing? Oooh, you need to post that recipe! Yumm..

    Simcha- Wilted salads are a great idea!

    Lee- It's great to have a good spring clean of the fridge before it self-composts, or is that just my crisper? Lucky us, we had our labour day weekend, then Family day public holiday this weekend too.

    Winston- Yes, but Melbournes like that all year round! :P

    Kath- Great! The mint really adds to the fresh flavour, remember- herbs are ingredients, not just garnishes!

    GourmetGetaways- Thanks! I enjoy cooked cucumber too, I guess they are an aquired taste maybe?

    Msihua- but if you don't eat your peas, your hair won't go curly! :)

    JasmyneTea- I love wonton soup, little surprises in each dumpling, yumm...

    Chopinandmysaucepan- I love that soup is just so versatile!

    Amanda- Same here! Still electric blanket weather too :(

    Cassie- The simplicity of the flavour is just right, the fact that it's healthy is a bonus :)

    Nic- Yumm indeed! Thanks, and they taste good too.

  21. Ben (being 1/2 chinese) is all about cooking lettuce - in with noodle dishes & stirfries. I love it now - at first I thought it was so weird :) Your coup looks lovely! I adore split pea soup.
    Heidi xo