After an indulgent bank holiday weekend, it is a delight to have such an array of fresh and vibrant spring ingredients to set us back on track to a healthy summer.
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 week I have a recipe that sings spring; allowing 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.
Served hot or cold, my super-greens spring soup can be enjoyed in the sun as a light and fresh lunch, or as a nutritious and wholesome warmer when the April showers make their appearance. Prepared, cooked and on the table easily within 20 minutes, make fresh and devour with a generous dollop of creamy cream fraiche, or quickly cook in batches and freeze down into portions for later convenience.
This recipe really is spring in a bowl!
- 1 large leek
- 6 wild garlic leaves
- 4 spring onions
- Dash of rapeseed oil
- Knob of butter
- 200g spinach
- 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.