Bolted lettuce? Don’t panic, make soup. Just not this one…


It seems to happen overnight… one day the lettuce is growing outwards in the happy hope of turning into something big and round, the next it’s shooting to the heavens in a tower reminiscent of a Japanese pagoda. These ones hadn’t so much as bolted as moved country and changed their names by deed poll.

Bolting, the formation of a flowering stalk, can either happen in lettuces when they are left too long and are beginning their natural seed-forming process, or when they have had a shock in their little lives. I think I left these – a green oakleaf – in their plug cells a bit too long where they probably got thirsty. Anyway, whatever the reason, the things have gone skyward before going sufficiently outward and we all know raw bolted lettuce is a horrible thing – a bitter-tasting beast not worthy of a decent salad, however deceptively pretty the leaves might look in a salad spinner.


So what to do? Make soup of course. I chose the first one I came across on Google, which was a bit of a mistake, since the end result was an innocuous poor man’s version of leek and potato soup made with a disconcerting quantity of milk.

Diana Henry’s looks far more appetising, as does this and this Hugh F-W one

I’m now willing the rest of my lettuces to bolt so I can try them out…

One thought on “Bolted lettuce? Don’t panic, make soup. Just not this one…”

  1. Thanks very much for this tip!
    I tried on the HFW ones (without the cream and with different herbs – sorry I’m very lazy – if it’s not in the cupboard/garden I’m not likely to cook with it).
    It was OK – bit like cabbage based soups and certainly good enough considering it was using otherwise useless plants. A blob of homegrown/homemade onion chutney made all the difference

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