Instead of using 2 whole lettuces you could use the outer leaves of several lettuces and reserve hearts for salads. It is also a good way to use up lettuces which have gone rather too limp for a salad.
Serve hot or cold, depending on the weather. If serving cold do not enrich with butter. If serving hot accompany with croutons. The bechamel sauce is made with chicken stock to heighten the very delicate flavour of the lettuce.
SERVES 4- 2 lettuces
- 1 small onion
- freshly ground black pepper
- 75 ml [3 fl oz] thick cream
- 50 9 [2 oz] butter
For the bechamel sauce:- 550 ml [1 pt] chicken stock
- salt and white pepper
- 25 g [1 oz] butter
- 25 g [1 oz] flour
1 Make a roux with the butter and flour. Warm stock and stir in away from heat.
2 Return the pan to low heat and bring to the boil, stirring. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
3 Meanwhile, wash and dry the lettuces, peel and finely chop the onion.
4 Melt 25 g [1 oz] of the butter in the saucepan and sweat the onion and lettuce for about 10 minutes or until soft.
5 Add the onion and lettuce to the bechamel sauce and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.
6 Reduce the contents of the pan to a puree using a vegetable mill, liquidizer or by passing through a sieve.
7 Return the soup to the pan, taste and season lightly with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
8 Measure the cream into a small bowl. Spoon in some of the hot soup and stir vigorously to mix thoroughly.
9 Pour the cream and soup mixture back into the hot soup, stirring all the time.
10Reheat carefully but do not allow to boil. Meanwhile, cut the remaining butter into 5 or 6 pieces.
11 Stir the butter, one piece at a time, into the hot soup to give a final gloss. Adjust the seasoning and serve.
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