Genoese Borage and Lettuce Soup

Zuppa alla Genovese

Equal quantities of borage and fresh lettuce combine to make a soup with a perfect summery flavour. This Ligurian soup is perfect for showing off the intensity of the fresh local herbs. All Ligurian dishes feature herbs: even the traditional trenette (thin ribbons of pasta) are studded green with chopped herbs mixed into the dough. Wild or cultivated herbs work equally well - but if you are going to pick wild herbs, please make sure you know which are the edible ones!

Ingredients

  • 11 oz (300 g) borage, washed and trimmed
  • 11 oz (300 g) cos lettuce leaves, washed and trimmed
  • salt and pepper
  • tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 handful mixed fresh herbs, finely chopped
  • pinch ground mixed spice
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 3 heaped tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 pints (1.2 litres) best-quality chicken broth

Method

Bring a saucepan containing enough salted water to cover the borage and lettuce to the boil. Plunge in the borage and lettuce and cook for 1 minute, then drain and rinse in cold water. Squeeze it in your fists to remove all excess liquid, then chop finely.

Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a deep pan and fry the onion and herbs for 5 minutes. Stir in the chopped lettuce and borage, season with salt, mixed spice and pepper. Cover and cook very gently for 30 minutes. Turn the mixture out into an oiled heatproof bowl and allow to cool completely.

Mix the eggs and cheese together, then pour them into the bowl. Stir everything together very carefully, then place the bowl in a deep saucepan containing hot water. The water should come three quarters of the way up the outside of the bowl.

Place over a medium heat and cook for about 10 minutes or until the eggs have set. Take off the heat, remove the bowl from the saucepan and allow to cool. Turn out the contents of the bowl and slice into little-finger-sized strips. Bring the broth to the boil, then slip in the strips. As soon as the broth returns to the boil, serve the soup.

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