Lettuce Soup with Egg Balls

Lettuce Soup 2

Each week I browse through hundred-year-old magazines and cookbooks in search of the perfect recipe to feature. Occasionally a reader’s comment provides the inspiration for the recipe I select. Today was one of those times.

A month or so ago, Ronit Penso at Tasty Eats commented on a hundred-year-old menu that mentioned Lettuce Soup:

As for the lettuce soup – it was quite common in classic French cuisine. It’s interesting that it somehow lost popularity. I wonder why. I still use it in certain soups. It adds lots of body and creaminess without making the soup heavy.  . .

Ever since then I’ve had this urge to make a hundred-year-old lettuce soup recipe, and when I saw some awesome leaf lettuce for sale this week, I knew that now was the time to give it a try.

The Lettuce Soup turned out wonderfully, and was good either hot or cold. This nutrient rich soup contains several vegetables which results in a lovely, nuanced combination of flavors that beautifully combine the mild bitterness of the lettuce with the slight tanginess of onions and green pepper. It is lovely when served hot with small, delicate Egg Balls.

And, when served chilled,  this refreshing soup is perfect on a hot summer day. (I skipped the egg balls when I served it cold.)

Here is the recipe for Lettuce Soup with Egg Balls updated for modern cooks:

Lettuce Soup with Egg Balls

  • Servings: 4-5
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

Soup

3 tablespoons butter

1/2 pound lettuce, coarsely chopped (approximately 6 cups, chopped)

2 cups chicken broth

1/3 cup onion, chopped

1/4 cup green pepper, chopped

1 sprig parsley

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/3 teaspoon sugar

2 tablespoons flour

1 egg yolk

1 cup milk

1/3 cup cream

Melt butter in large sauce pan. Add the chopped lettuce, and cook using medium heat until the lettuce is wilted, while stirring occasionally (8-10 minutes). Add the chicken broth, onion, green pepper, parsley, cloves, and sugar; cover the saucepan and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and cool slightly; then puree using a blender or food processor. Return the pureed mixture to the pan.

In a mixing bowl, stir the egg yolk into the flour, then add a small amount of milk and stir to create a paste. Gradually add the remaining milk and cream while stirring to create a smooth sauce. Then stir the sauce into pureed lettuce mixture. Heat mixture until hot and steamy using medium heat; stir occasionally.  May be served either hot or chilled. If desired, serve with Egg Balls.

Egg Balls

1/2 cup fine bread crumbs

2 egg yolks

clarified butter or other shortening

Combine bread crumbs and egg yolk  in a bowl. Shape the mixture into 1/2-inch balls. Place the clarified butter or shortening into a frying pan, and heat until hot.  Drop balls into the hot butter, then gently roll the balls with a fork until all sides are a light brown. Remove from heat and drain on paper towels. Put several egg balls into each cup of Lettuce Soup.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: American Cookery (Boston Cooking School Magazine, June/July, 1915)

Source: Source: American Cookery (Boston Cooking School Magazine, June/July, 1915)
Source: Source: American Cookery (Boston Cooking School Magazine, June/July, 1915)

The original Lettuce Soup recipe made 12 or more servings, so when I adapted the recipes for modern cooks, I divided the soup ingredients by 3.  The Egg Balls recipe did not seem overly large, so I did not need to make a similar adaptations to that recipe; however, I used one fewer egg yolk in the Egg Balls than called for in the original recipe because the consistency of the dough was better.

Old-fashioned Silky Cauliflower Soup Recipe

Silky Cauliflower Soup

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to lose a few pounds. I’m trying to eat healthy (and January is the perfect time for soup), so I looked through my hundred year-old cookbooks for a soup that was light yet rich and tasty. I wasn’t sure it was possible to find a soup that met my criteria, but I think that I came up with a soup that fits the bill.

I found a recipe for Cauliflower Soup in Lowney’s Cook Book (1912). This milk-based soup is a very smooth, strained soup—and not very thick; so I think that today it would be considered a “silky” soup.

This Silky Cauliflower Soup is lovely, and has a surprisingly subtle cauliflower taste. The soup will warm you up on a cold winter day–plus, it’s light enough that you don’t need to feel guilty.

Here’s my updated version of the recipe for modern cooks:

Silky Cauliflower Soup

  • Servings: 5
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

1 medium head cauliflower, coarsely chopped

water

4 tablespoons butter

1/3 cup chopped onion

4 tablespoons flour

4 cups water

1 egg yolk, beaten

2 teaspoons salt

1/8 teaspoon ground pepper

2 cups milk

2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated

Put chopped cauliflower in a saucepan and cover with water, bring to a boil and cook until tender. Drain cooked cauliflower and puree in a blender or food processor.

In the meantime, melt butter in a large saucepan; then add the chopped onions and saute until tender. Stir in the flour, and slowly add 3 cups water while stirring constantly. Stir the egg yolk into the remaining 1 cup water; and then add the egg and water mixture to contents of the large sauce pan while continuing to stir constantly. Add the pureed cauliflower, salt, and pepper to the mixture and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and strain. Return the liquid to the pan and stir in the milk. Heat until hot, then stir in the Parmesan cheese and serve.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: Lowney's Cook Book (1912)
Source: Lowney’s Cook Book (1912)

Old-fashioned Cream of Chives Soup

19-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Tuesday, May 12, 1914: <no entry>

DSC08882

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

I always look forward to eating the early spring vegetables and fruits. After a long winter, rhubarb, spring greens, asparagus, and chives taste wonderful. Since there’s no diary entry to guide the direction this post takes, I’ll share a recipe for one of my favorite spring foods—Old-fashioned Cream of Chive Soup.

Old-fashioned Cream of Chives Soup

1 cup potatoes, diced

water

1/4 pound bacon, diced

2 cups chives, chopped in small pieces (approximately1/8 inch long)

2 tablespoons flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

5 cups milk

2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped

Put diced potatoes in a saucepan and just barely cover with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium; cook until tender (about 8-10 minutes). Remove from heat.

In the meantime put bacon in a Dutch oven or other large pan and begin to fry. About 3-4 minutes before the bacon is crisp, stir in the chopped chives. Continue stirring until the chives are wilted and the bacon is crisp; then stir in flour, salt, and pepper. While continuing to heat, gradually stir in milk. Add cooked potatoes (the water they were cooked in can also be added) and chopped eggs. Reheat until hot; serve.

You might also enjoy these previous posts with recipes for other spring foods:

Rhubarb Sponge Pie

Stewed Rhubarb (Rhubarb Sauce)

Baked Rhubarb with Orange

Rhubarb Pudding

Creamed Asparagus on Toast

Creamed Dandelion

Rivel Soup (Potato Soup with Small Dumplings) Recipe

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Tuesday, January 6, 1914:  Nothing much doing.

Rivel SoupHer middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

It’s cold here! I like to make old-fashioned hearty soups, like Rivel Soup, on icy days like today. I wonder if the Muffly’s regularly ate soup during the winter months.

Here’s an old recipe of Rivel Soup. It is a potato soup with small dumplings (rivels).

My family often ate this soup when I was a child. I didn’t like it back then, but now my husband and enjoy this nuanced and mild, yet delectable, soup.

Rivel Soup

4 medium-sized potatoes, diced into very small pieces

water

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup flour

1 egg, slightly beaten

2 cups milk

1 cup cream

salt

crumbled crisp bacon

Put the diced potatoes in a large saucepan and just barely cover with water. Cook diced potatoes in water until soft. Add butter and milk.

Meanwhile, to make rivels, combine flour and egg in a bowl.  Drop rivels, which are no larger than a raisin, into the boiling potato mixture, while periodically stirring to prevent the rivels from sticking together.

Cook 5 minutes. Add cream and salt to taste; reheat until hot.  Put into serving bowls and garnish with bacon.

4 servings

Old-fashioned Celery Chowder Recipe

17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Wednesday, January 29, 1913: <<no entry>>

DSC07174

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

This is one of the few days between January, 1911 and December, 1914 when Grandma wrote nothing. The previous day she wrote that a friend, Margaret G., was visiting and planned to stay overnight. Maybe the girls stayed up all night talking and Grandma was too tired to write anything.

Since there’s no diary entry to guide the direction this post takes, I’ll share a recipe for an old-time winter food—Celery Chowder.

It’s an excellent celery soup and I make it one or twice each winter.

 Old-fashioned Celery Chowder

1 tablespoon butter

1 large onion, chopped

3 cups celery, chopped

2 medium potatoes, diced

water

4 cups milk

2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Melt butter in large saucepan; add onion and cook until tender. Add chopped celery and potatoes; just barely cover with water. Bring to a boil and reduce heat; then simmer (15-20 minutes) until vegetables are soft. Add milk and chopped eggs; season with salt and pepper. Reheat until hot; serve.

Hubbard Squash Soup Recipe

16-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Thursday, November 16, 1911: Nothing important.

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Since Grandma didn’t write much a hundred years ago today I’m going to go off on a tangent –

My husband and I recently were out in the country and saw a farmer selling pumpkins, squash and other produce from a far. There were two large hubbard squash on the wagon. I immediately knew that I had to have one of them.

The farmer was surprised when I purchased it. He said that few people bought hubbard squash anymore.  He said that the previous year he’d sold none—and my purchase was his first hubbard squash sale this year.

He continued, “Old people buy them once in a while. Young people think they are some type of big gourd.”

(I hope he wasn’t insinuating that I’m old. Middle aged: yes; old: no)

Are hubbard squash really an almost archaic food?  . . .a food from Grandma’s day that people seldom eat now?

Here’s my favorite hubbard squash recipe.  It’s probably not a hundred-year-old recipe—but it’s a good way to use an old-time squash.

This soup is excellent, and I make it several times every Fall.

Hubbard Squash Soup

3 cups hubbard squash pulp (approx. 1/2 hubbard squash)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, diced

6 cloves garlic, finely diced

2 stalks celery, chopped

5 cups chicken broth

2 ham hocks

1 tablespoons honey

3/4 teaspoon thyme

2 cups heavy cream

2 cups milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. To get squash pulp, cut hubbard squash in half; remove seeds and membranes. Unless the squash is very small, only 1/2 of squash (or even less) will be needed to get 3 cups of pulp. [An aside: The squash in the photo is very large–and I needed to use less than a quarter of it to get 3 cups]. Put squash on a cookie sheet, cut side up.  Bake the squash for 45-60 minutes or until tender. The squash meat will start to become dark. This is okay.  Scrape squash out of the shell, and measure 3 cups of squash for use in this recipe.

Put olive oil in large pot. Heat using medium heat and then add celery, onion, and garlic; cook until tender. Add chicken broth, squash, ham hocks, honey, and thyme. Simmer for 45 minutes. Pull the ham hock out and dice any meat. Return meat to soup; cool slightly Puree soup in a blender until smooth.  Return to pan, and add cream and milk. Reheat soup, then serve.

Yield: 9 servings