I like soup, a lot. I probably have soup for lunch two or three times a week. When I had a “real” job, I regularly took soup to work to heat up in the microwave and other users of the office kitchen were always keen to know what the “weird” soup of the day was.
Spring is a great time for fellow soup lovers that forage, there are lots of great wild ingredients around that you can experiment with. Spring being the season of new growth and greenery, it is wild leaves that we make use of. You can follow the same basic recipe and easily and cheaply produce lots of different versions using either a single type of leaves or a combination. Adopt the basic recipe as you like with other ingredients or not blending it etc. The soups can be eaten hot or cold (gazpacho) and all freeze well. I use washed out plastic milk bottles to freeze them in.
As always, check the plant identification as there are some poisonous plants that it is possible to confuse with these.
- Nettles (use scissors and gloves, cut the top 2 or 3 inches including the stem. Do not use when they get older as they get fibrous).
- Wild Garlic (best before it flowers).
- Common Hogweed (NB Avoid Giant Hogweed, and wear gloves if you have sensitive skin)
- Ground Elder (best before it flowers, double check that it is not Dog’s Mercury)
- Watercress (must be cooked if “wild”)
- Alexanders (really check the ID, other umbellifers can be deadly!)
- Sea Beet
- Hairy Bittercress
- Common Sorrel (mix with some lettuce, skip the garlic. Beware of Lords and Ladies which is confused with this).
- Hop Shoots (beware of Black Bryony)
(Table scrolls right and left on mobiles, click on the photos for bigger / zoom-able versions)
Alternatives to a clove of garlic
- Wild Garlic leaves
- Three Cornered Leek – stem or leaves
- Few Flowered Leek – stem or leaves
- A few edible wild flowers e.g Primrose, Wild Garlic, Three Cornered Leek
- Chopped herbs such as Crow Garlic
- 1/2 a carrier bag or a few large bunches of leaves – see above
- A little oil
- 1 large onion – chopped
- 1 clove of garlic – crushed (or a handful of an alternative – see above)
- 1 carrot – optional
- 2 pints good stock (vegetable or chicken). I use Marigold Swiss Vegetable (or Vegan) Bouillon Powder.
- 2 medium potatoes – peeled if you like (not really necessary), chopped into large pieces
- Salt and fresh ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons cream or crème fraiche (optional)
- Garnish (optional)
- Small bunch of Crow Garlic
- A little extra cream or crème fraiche
- Wash all leaves thoroughly.
- Melt butter in a pan and sweat the chopped onion and garlic until soft but not brown (c. 10 minutes).
- Add stock, potatoes and all the leaves.
- Bring to the boil and simmer until the potatoes are cooked.
- Season with salt, pepper and add the cream.
- Put the soup mixture into a blender a bit at a time and blitz it.
- Return to pan, reheat and serve.
- Garnish with a swirl of cream and garnish.