The sun is shining and the veggies are looking delicious this time of year; from nutritious spring greens and garden peas now in abundance at farmers’ markets and grocers, to amazing wild ingredients that can be frugally foraged on a sunny afternoon walk.
Wild garlic, my favourite foraged ingredient, is now in full bloom, offering serious vigour when added to seasonal dishes. Between March and July forget about the convenience of buying a bulb and get yourself to any deciduous woodland or riverbank and keep your eyes peeled for its delicate white flowers (which are also edible) and spear-shaped leaves. Fond of damp ground, wild garlic is often found growing in large, dense patches and giving off a pungent garlic smell – it is therefore very easy to stumble across.
Wild garlic’s pungency is made more subtle through delicate cooking, enhancing its sweet, aromatic flavours. This sweetness is also perfectly matched to other sweet, seasonal vegetables such as fresh peas and young spring onions, making them the ideal flavour friends throughout this season.
This is a recipe that sings spring; allowing the simplicity of the ingredients to do all the talking. With the addition of a few fresh and fragrant herbs, this vibrant soup packs a real punch on the flavour front but could not be more simple to make.
1 large leek
6 wild garlic leaves
4 spring onions
Dash of rapeseed oil
Knob of butter
200g fresh peas (frozen if needs be)
100 spring greens, shredded
Bunch of parsley
Bunch of mint
1 litre Bouillon vegetable stock
Salt and pepper
1 tbsp creme fraiche
Cut the leek into large slices and roughly chop 3 of the garlic leaves and 2 spring onions. In a large pan, heat the oil and butter before sweating the leek, garlic and onions. Cook for 5 minutes until the leeks are soft before adding half quantities of the spinach and peas and all of the spring greens.
Pour in the vegetable stock and ensure all the vegetables are covered. Add a generous handful of roughly chopped parsley and mint, season well and bring up to a gentle simmer. Cook until all the vegetables are soft but still vividly green, then take off the heat – this will take approximately 6 – 8 minutes.
Using a stick blender, blitz the vegetables until smooth but the soup still has texture – if desired, thin the soup with a little more stock. Add the remaining roughly chopped spring onions, spinach and peas and allow to cook for 3 – 4 minutes. Remove the soup from the heat, test if any extra seasoning is required before stirring through the creme fraiche.
Serve with an extra dollop of creme fraiche and a sprinkling of fresh parsley and mint.
Recipe & Photo by Helen Upshall