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Chef Arie Pavlou’s lettuce soup is a game-changer in your bowl. (Photo credit: Doug Young)

Lettuce isn’t what first comes to mind as a soup component. For all its nutritional goodness, the go-to options never seem to be as a salad or a flourishing supporting-role garnish beneath some other main-event, platter-served course. But chef Arie Pavlou of Bistro Été will change your mind about this.

“It turns guests off when they see puréed lettuce as an ingredient,” says the owner and executive chef of the Water Mill-based restaurant. “But we have to insist that they try it.”

With his wife, Liz Pavlou, the Cypriot-born chef is beginning their ninth season at the Mediterranean-influenced Hamptons staple. Pavlou’s seasonally skewed soups are renowned on the restaurant’s ingredient-focused menu and change weekly “depending on what we have excess stock of that’s fresh,” he continues, “the mint just popped out of the ground a few days ago.”

Keeping vegan and vegetarian choices on the menu is equally important to the Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef, who continues to tweak his soup recipes for today’s changing palates.

“Many of my classic soup recipes called for a lot of cream and chicken stock,” recounts Pavlou, “changing out cream for coconut milk, stock for water, adding toasted onions, roasted garlic or sautéed mushrooms to bring out flavor allows everyone to enjoy them.”

“What I love about Arie’s soups is that they’re all very pure, and the ingredients are simple,” says Liz, “so they’re good for you.” The couple returns yearly to Cyprus, where foraging for ingredients is part of its inhabitants’ culture.

“In Greece, they have more of a vegetarian diet than you think,” says Arie, “especially the mountain diet, where you can pick wild asparagus and nettles.”

It will still be a few weeks before spring peas are available at our local farmers’ markets. Frozen peas will do in a pinch. A nice head of romaine will be much easier to find. 

“Our customers are shocked when they hear lettuce is in this recipe or that it has no dairy,” says Liz of this surprisingly creamy soup. “The romaine brings out a bit of an earthiness in texture when pureed with the peas,” reiterates Arie. “The secret to puréeing is to invest in a Vitamix. They’re just life-changing.”

Spring pea and lettuce soup

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes


  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 head romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 3/4 lbs fresh spring peas, shelled
  • 1.5 oz garlic confit (garlic cooked in olive oil)
  • 3/4 oz fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • 1 1/2 qts water
  • salt and freshly ground pepper


  • Drizzle olive oil into a medium-sized dutch oven. Add onions and sauté.
  • When onions are golden, add the lettuce. Stir with a wooden spoon until wilted.
  • Add the peas, a few dashes of salt and pepper, water and, finally, the garlic confit.
  • Bring to boil. Simmer for 20 minutes.
  • Add the mint and puree into a Vitamix, immersion blender, food processor or blender.
  • Enjoy chilled or hot (preferably with a glass of Channing Daughter's 2023 cabernet franc rosé!)