Spring is here, the seedlings are up, and the promise of a summer of delicious eating is in the air. One of my favorite Italian springtime dishes is “Minestra di Primavera” ~ “Spring Soup.” It features lettuce as the main ingredient. Now wait, before you imagine the ubiquitous “Wedge Salad” Iceberg jammed into a bowl, this recipe features Romaine and your choice of a spicy green such as Escarole, Chicory, or Arugula. For most of us Americans, we only consider lettuces for salads, but the Italians use lettuces as a delicately delectable main ingredient in soup. This soup takes advantage of the Spring garden’s early harvest of lettuces, which would never survive the unrelenting heat and humidity of summer.
If you grow your own lettuces, pick the Romaine when the leaves are young and tender. If gardening isn’t your thing, no worries, simply find the Romaine and Escarole heads in your grocer’s produce section.
To make it even easier on yourself without giving up on a sense of freshness, pick up a package of Spring Lettuce Mix from your grocer’s produce isle. Go for one of the more exotic mixes featuring any combination of baby greens: Spinach, Radish, Beet, Endive, Sweet Pea, Swiss Chard, Romaine, or kale. The possibilities are endless. Simply remember: this is not a Titanic soup — so avoid the Iceberg at all cost!