Forager’s Soup

This soup is also known in our house as “the gardeners revenge” and, despite certain peoples’ initial reservations, is absolutely delicious.  Honestly it really is.  Give it a go and you will have bragging rights when it comes to your cooking/eco credentials as well as a lovely full tummy!

If you can, and are brave enough to try it, please don a pair of gloves (to avoid stings) and go out and gather the wild greens that are all around us as well as growing unwanted in our gardens. Obviously choose where you pick – beside a busy road or a park used frequently by dogs are not good ideas!  I have chosen leaves that are easy to identify or well known such as nettles and wild garlic, otherwise known as ransoms (follow your nose for these) and every gardeners despair, ground elder. I find it particularly satisfying to pick the nettles and ground elder that grow in my garden (much to my despair) and turn them into something delicious to eat –  apparently I get a determined look in my eye as I venture out with the colander and gloves to pick them.

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Nettle tips, wild garlic, ground elder and spinach from the garden

Whilst many of us forage fruit and berries in the autumn months, and maybe if we have the time and space vegetables from our garden, yet few of us think of spring as a time for picking food in the wild.  Oddly, whilst we think of early spring as a time of green, leafy veg/salad, there is very little that is actually home grown about unless it is grown under cover – yet these “wild greens” grow with abundance.  Now it seems to be Restaurants who use and flaunt them and gleefully charge for them.  It was once commonplace to use them in home cooking; something our grandparents would have regularly done if they lived in the countryside and something that is still a way of life in Italy, France and Greece etc.

 

When I make this soup I always think of a lovely lady called Holly, who has a garden that is a wildlife haven   She gathers nettles as a free resource and tells her young family when she serves it up cooked in things that it is spinach as she knows they won’t want to be different from their friends.  They are always very suspicious that it’s nettles as they see her picking the nettles but are never totally sure.  She tells them that if they can’t tell the difference what does it matter?

Ingredients (serves 6)

  • 50g butter or 4tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 150g/3oz or two medium potatoes, diced
  • 600ml/1 pint vegetable or chicken stock
  • 600ml/1 pint creamy full fat milk or dairy alternative (I like almond/oat or rice milk here rather than soya)
  • 250g/9oz well washed and chopped wild greens (plus leaves you want to use up).  Nettles tips, wild garlic, wild sorrel, rocket, nasturtium leaves, young dandelions, young ground elder leaves, spinach, watercress are all good examples
  • salt and pepper

Garnish – finely shredded wild garlic leaves/wild garlic flowers in season/fried bacon lardons/fried diced chorizo and oil/creme fraiche

 

Method

  1. Melt the butter/oil in a large pan over a gentle heat
  2. Add potato and onion and stir to coat well. Season with salt and pepper.  Cover with scrunched up baking parchment or a butter wrapper and put on pan lid.  Sweat the vegetables over a low heat for 10-15 mins till soft but not coloured
  3. Remove the paper lid and add stock and milk.  Bring back to the boil and simmer for a further 15 mins until potatoes and onions are fully cooked
  4. Add the greens and boil uncovered for 3 mins until greens are just cooked taking care not to overdo it or soup will lose its vibrant green colour
  5. Puree the soup with/in a blender. Taste and adjust the seasoning.  Garnish as required and serve with crusty bread

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3 Comments

  1. You are amazing Rosie– I wouldn’t be brave enough to come up with a foraged soup– and it does look warming and yummy. I’ve wanted to try nettles, because I’ve read about people eating them and saying they were delicious! And on another note– Did you watch the Royal wedding this week?? Everyone here was glued to the tv! What did you think?? It was all so beautiful… OK, sorry I’ve been away and out of touch. Miss reading your posts! take care Rosie. xox

    • Lickthespoon says:

      How lovely to hear from you. No need to apologise. I’ve been flat out planting up the garden and writing deadlines etc so took a blog sabbatical! So if anything I am more at fault. I’ve loved reading what I call your postcard blogs You are so generous to share your life. xx.
      I loved the wedding. I thought she looked stunning, they both looked in love and the service and special touches in what was a formal ceremony were outstanding and uplifting. I loved, loved loved it!

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