Every vegetable gardener or allotment owner knows about gluts. In spite of your best attempts to plant successionally and sensibly, sometimes you just can’t avoid having a shed load of the same vegetable ready for eating at the same time. Some sell their excess at the garden gate, some donate theirs to eager (or not so eager) recipients, others chuck it on the compost heap. My preferred option is to eat as much, and more, than is humanly possible. Currently I’ve got lettuce bolting to the heavens faster than I can eat them, courgettes threatening to turn into marrows and french beans growing like topsy.
My beloved broad beans are nearly ready to be cut down to make way for autumn plantings of swiss chard and cavolo nero (which have been waiting patiently in old yoghurt pots for their rightful place in the garden). It sums up the bitter-sweet appeal of trying to eat as seasonly as possible: the sadness of another a favourite vegetable finished for the year, but the reassurance of the changing seasons reminding you that next spring you’ll have the anticipation and pleasure tasting a new season’s crop.
Every time I come up with a new recipe to make use of all this wonderful abundance, I’m sure I’ll remember it for next year, and then of course I don’t, which is the main reason for jotting all of these ramblings down.
Broad Bean and Lettuce Soup
Many soups are rather wintery but this one’s decidedly summery. I’d heard of Pea and Lettuce soup, so wondered how it would turn out with broad beans. This isn’t a hearty filling soup and the flavour is quite gentle and mild, but I eat so many big punchy flavours that sometimes I crave the more subtle charms of something like this.
1-2 Little Gem lettuce
knob of butter
250g broad beans
10-12 mint leaves – Moroccan or Tashkent preferably
Stock – chicken or vegetable
Wash the lettuce leaves to remove soil and slugs, neither of which will much improve the soup. Chop the lettuce up a bit. Melt the butter and a tablespoon of olive oil in a large saucepan. Soften the chopped onion in the pan and then add the lettuce stirring it gently while it wilts. Add stock, broad beans and mint and bring to the boil. Season and simmer for about 10 minutes.
If your broad beans are very large and the skins are tough, ideally you should remove them and de-skin, but it is a faff, and to be honest I rarely bother especially since you’re going to liquidise the soup.
Blend the soup in a liquidiser. Reheat if you deskinned the broad beans before liquidising. Serve hot.