This is where I note my efforts as I try to recreate some old recipes. Most are taken from my small collection of handwritten recipe books which date from the late 1700's to around 1922. I also have a collection of old tatty old recipe books, well thumbed and heavily splashed from years of use. I love them all!

The old-fashioned very stylised handwriting writing is sometimes difficult to decipher, measurements and cooking instructions are minimal, no tin sizes given. Luckily I enjoy a challenge. Just to complicate things I cook and bake on my wood-fired Rayburn, which can be... unpredictable.

I suspect this blog is less about the food and more about my passion for these lovely old books and the wonderful women who wrote them.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Pea and Lettuce Soup

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So many of the soup recipes from my old books proclaim to be 'vegetable', but I read on and the list of ingredients include items such as "two pounds of neck of mutton, or a fowl"...

Eventually I found one which required only vegetables and butter, things which I had in the fridge, including a very limp old lettuce  and peas from the freezer.

Melt an ounce of butter and put two chopped onions, the peas and the outer leaves of a lettuce or two to stew in a pint of water.   Add salt and pepper.     Pulp the vegetables but keep the liquor and add to it some more water and the hearts and stalks of the lettuces with spinach leaves cut small.    Add more salt and pepper and stew until soft.

In more modern parlance:

Chop two onions and saute them in an ounce of butter.  Roughly shred the outer leaves of a couple of old lettuces and add them to the pan.   Tip in a bag of peas.   Add a pint of water and simmer until the vegetables are cooked.     Blitz the soup with your hand-held blender, then add the hearts and stalks of the lettuce, along with spinach leaves, season to taste.    I added vegetable bouillon and cooked them all together.

I also added a good handful of chopped mint because we like the old mint and pea combination.

The resulting soup was quite thin at first.   I let it stand overnight and the next day it had thickened up considerably, the flavour had developed, too.  

Reheat and then serve with fresh crusty bread, croutons, dumplings, grated cheese - whatever it is that makes you happy.


  1. An unusual soup. Can't quite imagine the taste. Certainly healthy.

  2. Hello Linda, It is a deep and dark green soup, my husband's favourite kind. He loves that almost 'iron' flavour which the spinach gives it. Normally I just use whatever dark and leafy green vegetables are in the fridge, I think this is the first soup recipe I have actually used for quite some time.
    It was only the mint (which I originally forgot to include in the write-up) which lifted it for me, but I know that he would have enjoyed it more if it hadn't been there. Peas and iron, otherwise! The bit that I was really happy about was using up the old, outer leaves of the lettuce!

  3. Not often you see lettuce in any soup recipe. Your husband is a very healthy eater . He can have a piece of your chocolate cake as reward!
    Your mention of dumplings lit up a light for me. I really want to make dumplings, have my Nana's recipe, and winter is almost over. Darn it, i've got to do some planning.

  4. I often put a couple of whole Little Gem lettuces into our daily lunchtime soup (Compost Soup), they are delicious cooked. Cooked Lettuce is quite normal here.

  5. Hello Linda, Not sure he's a healthy eater, but he does like dark green soup, as well as chocolate, chocolate cake and more chocolate.. bit of a theme going on there. He's put himself on a healthy eating regime so I have hidden his chocolate bars to save him from temptation.
    Well made dumplings are a delight. Your Nana and my late mother-in-law obviously had the knack, mine turn out quite disappointingly soggy and stodgy. Real suet is probably the key, I use vegetable suet.

    Hello Cro, My old books do reveal lots of recipes for Lettuce Soup so when our lettuce begin to bolt I'll bring them in and whip up a pot of summer soup. It just seems strange to cook such a delicate salad vegetable.

  6. One of my favourite side dishes is peas and lettuce french style. But I put a slug of white wine in. delicious.

  7. Hello Sol, Sounds nice, I must have a go at making it. There almost always comes a time when the lettuce begin to bolt and they need to be used up quickly. cooking them could be the anwer because there is only so much salad I can eat in one day.

  8. Nice post, impressive. It’s quite different from other posts. Thanks for sharing. CBD Oils

  9. Hello Cherry joe, Nice to see you, and thank you for your comment!