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June 27, 2011

Slovak lettuce soup recipe


To be honest, I wasn't sure I could admit this to you, but it's the truth, and you should know. On Monday morning, a few hours before Chelsea, my summer intern, arrived to cook with me, I opened my refrigerator door and found two heads of iceberg lettuce, one package of romaine lettuce hearts, and three half-full boxes of baby green and red romaine leaves. Good grief. Some went directly into the compost pile, but a good bit of useable greenery remained. A quick search of lettuce soup recipes brought me to this Slovak soup, called salatova polievka, a completely new-to-me way to use iceberg lettuce. The combination of sugar, distilled vinegar and lots of fresh dill weed will sound familiar to people from Eastern Europe and Scandinavia, and it brings the otherwise humble lettuce to life.

Slovak lettuce soup

Ever-so-slightly adapted from this recipe for Slovak lettuce soup on Serves 4-6, with crusty bread on the side.


3 Tbsp butter
4 Tbsp + 1 tsp unbleached all-purpose flour, divided
2-1/2 cups water or chicken broth
2-1/2 cups milk (I used 1%)
1 head iceberg lettuce, chopped into bite-size pieces
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
5 Tbsp distilled white vinegar
2 Tbsp chopped fresh dill, or more to taste, plus extra for garnish.
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp fresh black pepper


In a 5-quart Dutch oven or heavy stock pot over medium heat, melt the butter, and whisk in 4 tablespoons of flour. The mixture will seem quite dry, but continue whisking for 1-2 minutes, until it turns light brown. Stir in the water or broth, and bring to a boil (this will happen quite quickly). Whisk the remaining 1 teaspoon of flour into the milk, and pour that mixture into the pot. Simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes.

Add in the lettuce, vinegar, sugar, dill, salt and pepper. Raise heat to medium-high, and bring the soup to a boil. Turn the heat off. Taste, and adjust seasoning with more salt or pepper.

Serve hot, garnished with extra dill.

Print recipe only.


Posted by: Jeanette | June 27, 2011 at 05:54 PM

Lydia - such an interesting recipe, and a great way to use up a lot of lettuce! I know I've found a few lettuce heads in my vegetable drawer here and there so this is great idea.

Posted by: CJ McD | June 27, 2011 at 09:22 PM

I wasn't sure if I should admit this as well.... I toss chopped lettuces into soups when they are in over abundance or "on the edge" all the time. Just think of them as a green. Delicate or robust, but still a green.

Love your recipe!

Posted by: CJ McD | June 27, 2011 at 09:23 PM

Toss a little chopped pickle in there if you are inclined.

Posted by: Lydia | June 28, 2011 at 09:09 AM

Jeanette, I'm so glad to know that I'm not the only one who accumulates lettuce! I wish I had the excuse that I grow too much in my garden, but I don't grow any. I just keep buying and buying.

CJ, it's only recently that I've started using lettuce in stir-fries, and soup is going to be the next frontier for me. (Love the pickle idea, too; I will try that next time.)

Posted by: Kalyn | June 28, 2011 at 11:09 AM

I've never seen a soup quite like this, sounds very interesting. And I hate to confess how much lettuce gets wasted at my house. When I was teaching school I'd take a lettuce salad every day for lunch and I got in the habit of buying it weekly. Need to either eat more salads or make lettuce soup.

Posted by: Lydia | June 29, 2011 at 10:17 AM

Kalyn, I'm amazed at how easy it is to accumulate lettuce. And the thing is that I really love lettuce salads, but I always end up buying more than I need.

Posted by: Cristina | August 12, 2016 at 03:20 PM

Just made this - so good! Super unique and well balanced. I added jalapeños for a kick and both my husband and 5 year old nephew liked it. Thanks for sharing!

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  • I'm Lydia Walshin, a longtime food writer who lives and cooks in a real log house. If I could, I'd eat Chinese noodles, grapes, ice cream and soup every day.
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