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French Cream of Lettuce Soup

(Soupe de Laitue)

Sounds bland, but isn't. This savory and attractive French first-course soup for 6 has a wonderful consistency and is distinctive enough to set up strongly flavored courses; silken enough in texture to make you champ at the bit to eat more.

Heat butter in a large saucepan, then saute garlic, parsley, tarragon, and onion until the onion is transparent. Add the lettuce and watercress, and stir over low heat for 5 minutes. Stir in the beef stock and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. When ready to serve, beat the egg yolks and the cream together with several tablespoons of the hot soup, then pour in, stirring constantly over low heat until the soup thickens slightly. Stir in salt and pepper and serve immediately.