Butter Lettuce Soup

Sałacianka

This Lettuce Soup offers a new, flavourful twist on this seemingly basic green. And while the idea feels novel, it’s actually a traditional Polish recipe (more on that below). 

Simply start with store-bought stock and infuse it with butter lettuce, spring onions and dill to give it a serious boost of flavour. For that extra creaminess, we’re blending half of the greens with sour cream, before returning it back into the soup. 

What a great way to introduce more spring vegetables into our menus!

For the full list of ingredients & detailed instructions, please see the recipe card at the end of this post. But before you scroll, there’s important stuff to know below.

Sałacianka (pron.’sawa-chian-cah’) is a regional Polish lettuce soup. It’s a Lublinian & Polesian specialty, which remains virtually unknown in the rest of the country. 

As its name suggests, (‘sałata’ means ‘lettuce’), leafy lettuce greens are the star ingredient in this soup.  Most of the traditional recipes call for butter lettuce. But other mild-tasting soft leaves – such as romaine or frisee – would work too.

Sałacianka is lightly soured with lemon juice, giving it similar flavour vibes to Szczawiowa (sorrel soup) or Ogórkowa (sour pickle soup).

Do you need any special ingredients or equipment to make this Lettuce Soup?

No, all of the ingredients should be easily accessible in any major supermarket. You can use a store-bought vegetable or chicken stock from a carton, but I do encourage you to use a home-brewed version.

Ingredients for Lettuce Soup

Equipment-wise, you’ll need an immersion blender (or a regular food processor, the kind that can purée stuff).

What should you serve with this Lettuce Soup?

This soup makes a wonderful appetizer/first course, but it can also act as a light lunch. It goes well with some fresh bread or a piece of toast on the side.

Drink-wise, I find that dry (or semi-dry) white wine pairs the best. 

Can you make this Lettuce Soup another way?

In the original recipe, lettuce doesn’t get blended at all. If you’re after a traditional experience, skip the blending part. By doing so, the soup will be thinner, with more floating lettuce ‘bits’.

And this goes both ways – if you prefer creamier textures, blend the lettuce completely.

When it comes to serving, I skipped additional garnishes – but there are many other suitable options, including:

  • crunchy soup pearls or croutons
  • crispy fried bacon (crushed) or fried ‘słonina’ (unrendered pork fat)
  • raw salad sprouts
  • vegetable chips 
  • edible flowers

If you have any leftover roast meat pieces, you can add it in as well.

What diets is this Butter Lettuce Soup suitable for?

As long as you go for vegetable stock, this recipe is suitable for vegetarians. The soup does contain both gluten and dairy.

How long can you keep this Lettuce Soup in the fridge?

Once you’ve served the soup, ideally it should be eaten within 4 hours or so.

If you would like to store any leftovers, let them cool first. Once cooled, refrigerate it in a container covered with a lid. Aim to consume within the next 3 days.

Can I freeze this Lettuce Soup?

Yes, you can – but of course nothing beats the soup that’s freshly made.

Freeze any leftovers as soon as they’re cold enough to do so. You can use either a freezer-friendly bag or a container with a lid. 

Don’t forget to label it with a description and the date. It’s best to eat it within 3 months.

How do I reheat this Lettuce Soup?

From chilled: Move the soup into a microwavable container and cover it with a loosely fitting lid. Heat for 4-7 minutes, until piping hot throughout. Another way would be to reheat it on the stove. Bring the soup into a near-boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

From frozen: Leave to thaw overnight in the fridge. Reheat in the microwave (covered) for 3-5 minutes; then stir. Cook for a further 5 minutes until piping hot.

Smacznego!

Lettuce Soup served in a green bowl
Polish Butter Lettuce Soup

Polish Butter Lettuce Soup

Yield: 5-6
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

This Polish 'Sałacianka' Lettuce Soup offers a new, flavourful twist on this seemingly basic green.

It's perfect for a spring or summer lunch!

Ingredients

  • 1 qt (1 litre) unsalted vegetable or chicken stock
  • 0.6-0.7 lb (10-11 oz, 280-310 g) baby potatoes
  • 1 large (0.9 lb, 400g) butterhead lettuce, or 2 small ones
  • 1 bunch spring onions, ideally with larger bulbs
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 7-8 oz (200-220 ml) sour cream
  • 1 bunch fresh dill (approx. 2 oz, 56 g)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • salt, to season (roughly 2 pinches)
  • ground black pepper, to season

Instructions

  1. Pour the stock into the cooking pot. Store-bought stock is fine, but if you have a home-made version - that’s even better.
  2. Wash the potatoes thoroughly. Cut out any imperfections, but in general - you can leave them unpeeled. Cut them into halves, quarters or eights.
  3. Drop the potatoes into the cooking pot and cook in stock for 20 minutes or so, until they’re nearly soft.
  4. Wash the lettuce, dry the leaves and then slice them into strips or small pieces. You could also tear them by hand. If you stumble upon a few tiny leaves, leave them whole - set them aside for decoration.
  5. Drop half of the leaves into the cooking pot and continue cooking them in stock, on a low heat.

Making roux

  1. Cut the little onions off the bunch of spring onions. Chop the onions finely.
  2. Melt two tablespoons of butter in a frying pan. Add in chopped onions and fry them for a short while, until they turn translucent. 
  3. Add in two tablespoons of flour and whisk them together with melted butter and chopped onions. Allow to bubble for at least a minute, while mixing continuously. 
  4. Once the roux turns smooth, move it into the cooking pot. Stir it in with a spoon.
  5. Puréeing lettuce with cream
  6. Drop the other half of lettuce leaves into a food processor, or - if using the immersion blender - any sort of tall container. 
  7. Pour the sour cream in. ‘Steal’ a few tablespoons of stock from the cooking pan, and add them in as well.
  8. Purée lettuce and sour cream together until smooth. Next, return this purée into the cooking pot.

Finishing up

  1. Chop the spring onion tops and dill finely. Add them into the soup.
  2. Season with a tablespoon of lemon juice, add two pinches of salt and a pinch of pepper. Stir together and check the flavour. Does it need an extra kick? Add more lemon juice.
  3. Pour the soup into individual bowls / soup plates, making sure everyone gets a fair share of potatoes.
  4. Garnish each plate with tiny lettuce leaves, a handful of croutons (optional) or another garnish of your choice.

Notes

  • Feel free to pick your own garnish - for serving suggestions, scroll back up to the main article.
  • This recipe is adapted from the book “Polska Kuchnia Regionalna” (“Polish regional cuisine”) by Maja Bartczak (Published in Poznań by Publicat, 2009, ISBN 9788324516612)

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 241Total Fat: 19gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 56mgSodium: 206mgCarbohydrates: 15gFiber: 2gSugar: 3gProtein: 4g

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Kasia Kronenberger

Kasia Kronenberger changes the (often unfavourable) perceptions of Polish food through digital storytelling. She creates purpose-led, bite-sized videos, exploring her cultural identity through food. As a self-taught home cook, Kasia enjoys trying out recipes from old Polish cookbooks. She’s keen of all things smoked or fermented.


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Cuisine: Polish
Region / Subregion: Lublin region, Polesia and Roztochia Lublin region & Polesia
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