Seasonal Recipes: Spring
Two Foragers Soups
When you grow your own there is always a gap between the end of the winter crop and the bounty of new season. But you can enjoy foraging for natures offerings at this time. The wild leaves in these Spring recipes are delicate in flavour, but packed full of nutrients.
Ingredients for creamed soup
2 tbsp coconut oil, one small onion, one leek, 2 sticks celery, one carrot, one small potato, 200 g nettle leaves, 250g wild garlic leaves, 50 g sticky jack leaves (optional) 1 litre homemade vegetable stock (or make with good quality cube), 1/2 cup of single (could use soy) cream
Dice the vegetables.. Clean the wild leaves and pull the nettle and sticky jack leaves off the stalks (wearing gloves) and discard the stalks.
Melt the coconut oil and fry the onion, the celery, carrot, potato until softening, then add the leek and mix in. Add the stock and bring to the boil then simmer for 15 minutes or until all the vegetables are soft.
Use a hand blender to blend to a puree (or sieve if you want a totally bit free soup), then add the cream and extra liquid if needed.
Ingredients for chunky soup
2 tbsp coconut oil, 2 tsp cumin, 2 tsp mixed dried or fresh herbs, one small onion, 4 white mushrooms, one leek, 2 sticks celery, one carrot, one small potato. (or any other veg from your fridge). 50 g nettle leaves, 50g wild garlic leaves, 100 g of dried soup mix (usually pearl barley, dried peas, split peas and lentils), 2 tsp cumin, 2 tsp mixed herbs 1 litre homemade vegetable stock.
Soak the soup mix overnight. Change the water and bring to the boil and simmer for about 40 minutes until the pulses are soft (it may take longer depending on how old the mix is – adding dried seaweed helps soften the peas)
Because this soup is not blended you need to chop a little more carefully to get a good visual appeal and texture. So dice the vegetables finely. Clean the wild leaves and pull the nettle and leaves off the stalks (wearing gloves) and discard. Cut into small pieces.
Melt the coconut oil and fry the vegetables until softening. Add the herbs and cumin, then the soup mix. Pour in the stock and bring to the boil then simmer for 2o minutes or until all the ingredient are soft. Add the nettle and wild garlic and cook for a few more minutes. Add salt to taste.
Works well in a slow cooker. But add the greens just before serving.
Stir fry of young greens
We use whatever is coming through in our Spring recipes. This is where you have to be creative and use subtle seasonings to give the dish a depth of flavour.
In this simple stir fry I have used mainly radish leaves, then added a few young beetroot leaves and some young pak choi. A handful of mange tout gives a contrasting texture.
350 g young greens (see above); 50 g manage tout or sugar snaps; 1 tsp. very finely chopped ginger; ½ tsp maple syrup or another sweetener; ½ tsp. salt or to taste; 2 cloves garlic peeled smashed and chopped; 1 – 2 tbsp. of coconut oil
Depending on how young your greens are you may, or may not, need to to chop them roughly. If any of them have stalks then separate them out.
Heat the wok, add the coconut oil and heat to a medium heat. Throw in the the ginger and sizzle. Then add the greens – stalk pieces first if you have them, then the leaves.
Toss and fry keeping the greens moving so they cook quickly and evenly. Then, as the greens start to soften, add the mange tout and fry again. Add the maple syrup and mix in. Finally add the chopped garlic and the salt. Stir, turn down the heat, and simmer for another 30 seconds or so, (liquid should seep out from the greens at this stage, creating a moist and flavoursome dish). Remove from the heat and serve as soon as possible.