Wonderful Spring. At last, after the dark evenings and short days of winter the natural world is bursting into life and with that brings all sorts of possibilities for an opportunistic cook.
One of the first gems of spring is the wild garlic plant. It grows randomly and with great abandon in woodlands, fields and actually in one of my more formal flowerbeds. How it got there I have no idea but it is a very welcome guest and a wonderful addition to my spring kitchen. It makes a fabulous pesto; delicious with linguine and goats cheese or just wilt some through a risotto for an elegant twist. Or just make a simple soup, brilliant green and a tantalising overture of good things to come.
WILD GARLIC SOUP
Four shallots, finely chopped (Or one onion)
Two new potatoes (approx 150g, charlotte are good), chopped
1 stick celery, chopped
1 small leek, chopped
One clove garlic
One tablespoon light olive oil
Knob of butter
A large bunch of wild garlic leaves, picked fresh if possible
One litre of vegetable or chicken stock
50ml double cream (optional)
Salt & Pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
Wild garlic flowers
Take a saucepan and heat the oil and butter. Add the shallot, leek, celery and potato and cook for a few minutes until softened, pale and translucent. Add the crushed garlic and cook for a couple of minutes more.
Add the stock and simmer gently for about fifteen minutes until the veg is soft. Add the wild garlic leaves and cook briefly, about two minutes.
Blend until smooth and stir in the double cream. Season well with seasalt and pepper.
Serve with a garnish of wild garlic flowers and a gentle drizzle of extra virgin oil.
If you have any wild garlic pesto spare that would be rather delicious garnishing the soup as well.
If you can’t find wild garlic in your garden or surrounding countryside then I am fairly sure that a good greengrocer will have some at this time of year. It is a treat not to be missed.