Lettuce & Basil Soup (GF)

I SERVED THIS GARDEN-FRESH SOUP for the first-course at a small dinner party last Saturday. The soup was a big hit. I know it was a big hit, because my partner Will and our guests Robert and David all asked for seconds. And then they asked for thirds.

Folks, can we all agree that when a dinner guest asks for thirds, he or she is not merely being polite?

Good. I’m glad we’ve settled this little issue.

Here’s the recipe for this lettucy, basily, lemony brew that I hope you will make for your next summertime dinner party:

To start, peel a couple of russet potatoes, and then cut them into smallish chunks. Small chunks cook faster that big chunks.

Then smash and peel 2 large (or 3 medium) cloves of garlic.

Put the potatoes and the garlic in a purple pot…

And cover them with 1 quart of unsalted chicken (or vegetable) stock.

Meanwhile, run out to your garden (or to your farmers market or supermarket), and grab each of the following:

One head of romaine lettuce…

Some basil (40-50 big leaves will do)…

And 6 sprigs of flat-leaved parsley. Remove the leaves and discard the stems.

Clean the lettuce, peel off the leaves, and add them to the simmering stock. Push them down with a spoon to insure they wilt.

This is what wilted romaine leaves look like.

Add the basil and let it wilt.

Finally, throw the parsley leaves into the pot and let them wilt.

Off heat, cool the brew down by adding another cup of chicken (or vegetable) stock.

Now dig out your purple stick blender (or your food processor or regular electric blender)…

And puree the brew!

Then stir in some salt and pepper…

And the juice of 1 lemon.

Yes, that’s the correct way to use a lemon-squeezing gadget. You place the lemon half flesh-side down. I learned this the hard way.

If the soup is too thick for your liking,  just thin it out with a little more stock or some heavy cream.

You can serve the soup hot or warm, but in summertime, you’ll find it is at its gastronomical best when served cold from the fridge.

Garnish each serving with a dollop of creme fraiche, a few thin strips of basil, and, if you feel up to it, a pinch of lemon zest.

True Confession: I forgot to garnish the servings at last week’s dinner party. No one seemed to care.

And why didn’t they care?

Because the soup is utterly delicious as is!  I served mine along with a crusty baguette, and plentiful goblets of cold Pinot Grigio.

And here’s a copy-and-paste version of the above recipe:

Lettuce and Basil Soup
Kevin Lee Jacobs (www.kevinleejacobs.com)
2 large russet potatoes (about 2 pounds), peeled and cut into medium-small chunks
2 large (or 3 medium) cloves of garlic, smashed and peeled
5 cups unsalted chicken (or vegetable) stock
1 head romaine lettuce, the leaves separated and rinsed
40-50 large basil leaves
6 sprigs of flat-leaved parsley, the leaves removed (discard stems)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and 5 grinds of black pepper
The juice of 1 lemon
Optional: 1/4 cup heavy cream,  and creme fraiche and thin strips of basil and/or lemon zest for garnish

Special Equipment: a 4-5 quart pot with a lid; a stick blender or a food processor or regular blender for pureeing the soup

1. Put the potato and the garlic in the pot, and cover with the 4 cups of chicken (or vegetable) stock. Cover the pot, and simmer until the potatoes are perfectly tender — about 30 minutes.

2. Add the lettuce to the pot, pushing it down into the liquid to insure the leaves wilt. Add the basil and parsley leaves, and stir them around until they wilt. Remove the pot from the heat.

3. Pour the remaining stock into the pot. Puree until smooth.

4. Stir in the salt, pepper, lemon juice, and the optional cream. Then chill the soup for several hours or overnight.

To serve, garnish each serving with a dollop of creme fraiche. For further decoration, you can add thin strips of basil and/or lemon zest.

Folks, do me proud and make this soup, okay? I promise you will love it.

Don’t miss any fun stuff at A Garden for the House…join the thousands of happy, peppy people who have signed up for Kevin’s weekly email updates.

Chicken Thighs en Papillote
Blackberry (or Blueberry) Buckle
Easy Homemade Baguettes


  1. Oh it sounds delicious, and perfect for a hot summer day!

  2. Of course it sounds delicious Kevin. But, I would not make this too lazy. Went to a golf tournament last week and it was delicious food. Lobster salad and first course was Rasberry Prosecco soup. Have no idea how to make it, do you? It was a spectacular summer soup. Just sayin!

  3. Kevin, I love your purple pot and purple stick blender description. I was laughing out loud. Thank you.

  4. Brenda Johnson says:

    What a delightful surprise to see Kevin and receive a bowl of this cool verdent velvet! So very refresshing on this 3H day! (Hazy hot and humid!) Smooth and rich- could certainly stand alone as a main dish- but is in no way heavy! Lively basil brightened with lemon balances the savory chicken stock and garlic perfectly! This was a nice change from lettuces usual as summer salad!Thank you so much for sharing Kevin!!

  5. We had this for supper tonight–just right for such a hot day! For garnish I used some swirls of creme fraiche and a dozen or so fresh, lightly blanched garden peas–yum!

    Thanks for a great new summer soup!

  6. Mary – So glad you tried — and liked — the soup!

  7. Well alrighty, I’m on it! Going to have a lovely hearty soup tonight with the salmon. Thank you for your gracious creativity, Kev!

  8. Stephie – Great! Hope you’ll let me know how the soup turns out for you.

  9. When will your cookbook be in print? I want two!! One for me and one for my daughter.

  10. badger gardener says:

    I have been hesitant to try a dish involving cooked lettuce, but if people are asking for thirds then you have changed my mind. Is there a reason to use romaine? I have Bibb lettuce in my garden.

  11. Hi Sheila – Why, thank you! I’ll let you know when I have a pub date…

    badger gardener – I used romaine simply because I have so much of it in my garden. But an entire head of bibb lettuce should be divine in this soup. Hope you’ll try it!

  12. I’m going to try this 🙂 I love basil… and green….. thank you!

  13. …heading to the store for a purple pot 😉

    you’ve stretched my (lettuce) boundaries with this one. thanks!

  14. Love the purple pot and stick blender. Great photos for easy preparation. Could this be made in a Vitamix without any stove cooking?

  15. Hi Sandy – You’d still need to cook the potatoes and wilt the greens in simmering chicken or vegetable stock. But you could certainly puree the works in your Vitamix blender.

  16. I have a bumper crop of basil this year – this soup will be perfect! Can hardly wait to try it!

  17. Kevin, you really keep me going. Last year, on another one of these great recipes, I realized that I needed barrels of herbs just outside the door. There are seven there now. The basil is the only one ready to pick as the parsley was consumed by a swallow tail caterpillar…..who then disappeared. But will have to run to store to get lettuce, potatoes and garlic. You really brighten my day.

  18. Hi Kevin, Last year I planted ONE basil perpetua plant and had enough basil to feed the entire US Army! Luckily, I WAS able to give away all that I couldn’t use or freeze. It made such a lovely shrub, that I planted it again this year. It must already have 300 leaves on it and I wonder what to do with them so they don’t go to waste. I’m very anxious to give your soup a try because it’s going to use up a bunch of them! If you’re not familiar with basil perpetua, it’s a beautiful plant with variegated leaves that add a lot of interest to one of my containers that has a bi-colored lime green and fuscia petunia in it as well. Last year, my plant was easily 4′ tall by 4′ wide. Thanks for the recipe:)

  19. Are you on pinterest? I pin so many of your recipes.

  20. Yum. Tonight’s first course.

  21. My goodness, this sounds fantastic!! And a little different too!! I will make this week.

    Thanks much!


  22. Judy Hines says:

    Kevin — it’s Judy Hines (and Ed) in Illinois who sent you the Theuret tomato seeds. How are they doing? We’ve had so much rain out here and the temps are lower than average. We want to come to one of your Garden Conservancy Days. The basil/lettuce soup looks great! Just forwarded your website to a good friend.

  23. Perfect! Cold soup, bread, and wine. I have friends coming for a visit and they will be driving all day before they get to my house. This will be a perfect light supper that can be ready to serve whenever they arrive. Thank you.

  24. Thanks! I have a crazy Basil plant on my balcony and it needs a trimming with a purpose! By the way, it is Italian Basil.

  25. Thank you for this gluten free recept.

  26. Hi, Kevin,

    Cooking lettuce always sounds so bizarre — and then I wonder *why* since we cook practically all other types of greens. So your guests going for thirds sure sold me! I’ll definitely try this one soon. Thanks for another great recipe and fun read!


  27. Kevin…I’m new to your blog but I love your easy recipes and practical fresh ideas. Thanks so much!

  28. Beverly, zone 6, eastern PA says:

    From all visual learners……. T H A N K Y O U !

  29. Tiffany says:

    Beautiful recipe! You’re a genious! Always wanted a recipe for a lettuce soup…and now I have a marvelous one.

  30. Jessica says:

    I have lots of curley parsley. Would that change the taste a lot?

  31. It looks so great. I will make it soon.

  32. I promise I will…really seems delicious and yes Kevin fun to be I with you online!

  33. What a great interesting way to use up the summer harvest. Thanks Kevin

  34. how many does this recipe serve?

  35. Dorraine Zone 9 says:

    I have had a wilted salad but nothing like this. It’s time to start my Fall garden and I will have to try the lettuce. Thank You I enjoy this site so much

  36. despina says:

    This was seriously delicious! An unexpected summer light fare that packs a flavor punch!

  37. Kevin, Thank you for another winner! Even my teenage granddaughter loved it! Served it with a roasted head of freshly harvested garlic and a french baguette. Can’t wait to make it again with potatoes from the garden and homemade chicken stock! Lovely! Now I have to go and try it cold for lunch!

  38. Karen – So glad you enjoyed the soup!

  39. Hi Kevin:

    Just finished making your lettuce and basil soup. It’s delicious hot! Now it’s warm, it’s still delicious! I’m not sure it’s going to make to the chilled stage, but if I can stop eating NOW, I’m sure it will be great cold too.

    I made it cause I love cold soups. This is great!! And it couldn’t be any easier. Thank you Kevin.

  40. Nanelle Adams says:

    This sounds like a perfect soup for a hot Alabama Day! Can’t wait to try it.

  41. I agree with badger gardener, above – cooked lettuce does seem a little weird. BUT…I tried it and it is actually a bit basil-y and lemon-y and quite nice (needed to add a bit of milk/cream to thin it out, but that’s fine). Surprisingly good!

    Thanks again for the great recipes!

  42. Sheryl – So glad you enjoyed the soup!

  43. Shirley Blaschke says:

    Kevin – I made the Romaine Basil soup as a prelude to a grilled steaks and Lynch Bages 1978 wine dinner with my son, it was delicious, cool and intriguing. everyone LOVED the flavors! Thank you for another winner. SLB

  44. badger gardener says:

    Just made up a batch and the flavors are amazing. Only tasting tonight and we’ll serve it cold tomorrow. Anxious to try it then. In addition to being wary of cooked lettuce dishes I also have never had a cold soup, not even gazpacho. What adventures you lead us to : )

  45. Oh thank you, Kevin! I didn’t know I was using my lemon squeezer wrong!

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