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Don’t be put off by the name; nettle soup is rich, green and delicious


by Meg Walker
18th Apr 2018
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My grandma used to tell me how she had to eat nettle soup during the war and how disgusting it was. But she was converted by this rich and green soup, and I made it for her regularly. Just be sure to make it on the day as it does not stay fresh for long. 

Foraged Soup

Serves 4

Ingredients
200g wild garlic leaves
50g nettle leaves
50g jack-by-the-hedge
125g butter
vegetable oil
300g white onions, diced
400g red-skinned potatoes, rinsed and cut into 5mm dice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp chopped thyme leaves
700ml chicken stock
100ml whipping cream
150g goat’s curd or cheese, crumbled
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

To serve
drizzle of wild garlic oil (see recipe below)
handful of tiny garlic shoots or flowers and wild garlic leaves

Method
Wash all the wild leaves separately. Bring a pan of salted water to a rolling boil, blanch the jack-by-the-hedge for 30 seconds and refresh in iced water. Drain, squeeze out the excess water and set aside.

Melt the butter with a little oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onions, potatoes, garlic and thyme, and season with salt and black pepper.

Sweat for 5-10 minutes, or until the potatoes start to break down and the mixture becomes starchy. Add the chicken stock and cream, bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the potatoes are just tender and the mixture is starting to thicken.

Transfer the mixture (it should still be very hot) to a blender jug, pack in all the wild leaves, and fit the lid and the stopper. Blitz on full speed for a good 4-5 minutes until the soup is extremely smooth and a vibrant green. Correct the seasoning if necessary, and strain through a fine sieve. Cool in a bowl set over ice if not eating straight away.

Pour the warm soup into serving bowls and top with a little goat’s curd. Serve with a drizzle of wild garlic oil and a few torn young garlic shoots or flowers and wild garlic leaves.

Wild Garlic Oil
This is such an easy oil to make and is a good thing to have in the freezer. Once made, the oil will keep for a week or so in the fridge, but I recommend freezing it so you can use it all year round. It’s brilliant added to pasta dishes, in a pesto or drizzled over bread to make the ultimate garlic bread!

Makes 350ml

Ingredients
1 kg freshly foraged wild garlic leaves
300ml neutral oil (I use grapeseed)

Method
Pulse the garlic leaves in a food processor until roughly chopped. Place the garlic in a clean cloth and squeeze out all the water until you are left with a dry ball of pulp. Transfer the pulp back to the food processor and blend with the oil for 3 minutes until thoroughly combined. Hang the garlic oil in a muslin cloth and whatever drips through is ready to use.

Extracted from Roots by Tommy Banks (Seven Dials, approx €29). Photograph by Andrew Hayes-Watkins.