Yes, lettuce and cucumber can be cooked, the former tasting like a very mild cabbage and the latter like something between cucumber and a very mild, plush squash. For this fresh, spring-like recipe, buy two (1-pound) packages of frozen peas and reserve the unused 1/4 pound for another purpose. Or, if you're feeling ambitious, you can shell fresh peas--buy about 6 pounds in the shell to get 5 1/2 cups. Recipe from Eliza Acton's "Modern Cookery," 1845.
1/4 cup butter
3 large cucumbers, peeled and sliced
2 heads romaine lettuce, shredded as for cole slaw
2 onions, sliced
1/3 cup minced parsley
12 fresh mint leaves
5 1/2 cups frozen green peas, about 1 3/4 pounds
White pepper or cayenne
Parsley sprigs, optional
Sliced green onions, optional
Melt butter in skillet. Add cucumbers, lettuce, onions, parsley and mint. Simmer 1 hour.
Bring 2 1/2 quarts water to boil in soup pot with 1 teaspoon salt. Add 4 cups green peas and cook until tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain peas, returning cooking liquid to pot. Puree peas as smooth as possible and mix puree into cooking liquid. Stew gently 15 minutes.
In separate pot, cover remaining 1 1/2 cups of peas with water, bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer until tender, 3 to 5 minutes.
Drain peas and add to soup. Remove cucumber and lettuce mixture from skillet, drain well and add to soup. Season to taste with salt and white or cayenne pepper. Garnish with parsley sprigs and green onions.
Makes 8 servings.
Each serving contains about: 158 calories; 143 mg sodium; 16 mg cholesterol; 6 grams fat; 20 grams carbohydrates; 7 grams protein; 3.17 grams fiber.