By Sophia Young – Kitchen Manager at Embercombe
When we allow ourselves to drop the bar a little of trying to re-create a perfect recipe or pause before making supper for a pack of hungry wolves, we in turn give ourselves time to slow down and greater opportunity to bring both presence and curiousity to our connection with the food we are preparing. Whether it be a simple lunch for one or meal for a beloved or large celebratory feast for family and dear ones, it’s so often easy to forget to take a few breaths before we commence cooking, to shift focus and intention beyond what might be expected. Maybe it’s not possible every day but marking a moment, say by lighting a candle and turning attention inward for a minute or so, enables us to meet the food we are soon to prepare with both grace, gratitude and increasing reverence. This may feel a billion light years away from the demands of the busy and hectic lifestyles that so many of us lead yet, with a little more time available on our hands whilst at home during lockdown, I invite you to explore unearthing the sacred in the simple daily activity of bringing food to your table and shine a light upon the beautiful creative alchemy within this ancient process. Even time taken to wash hands beforehand can open up a doorway of reflection, contemplation and opportunity to carve a new relationship with the host of ingredients in your kitchen.
Wild Green Spring Soup is a delicious easy recipe to either follow or bring your own wisdom and intuition to, with quantities to be played with to taste. If you are able, a little foraging is a brilliant way to start discovering what’s around locally and attune with the wondrous gifts that are often found on our doorsteps. Both nettles and wild garlic are wonderful for supporting the immune system, something so vital in these extraordinary times, and the beginning of Spring is the time to go a hunting. The tide will be turning on wild garlic now but if you’re able to source some, it’s easily frozen in ice-cube trays, simply chop & add a splosh of water and saved for later days.
x 2 large white onions
x 4 leeks
x 2 large potatoes, baking or similar
Caraway seeds or other herbs / spices of your preference
A couple of handfuls of nettles or wild garlic if available
A handful of Spring greens leaves or spinach
A tablespoon of Rapeseed oil or chosen alternative
Boullion or homemade vegetable stock if available
Salt & pepper
Make a weave (the soup’s base) by chopping the onions, leeks and garlic. Onions tend to take a little longer to cook so start by sauteeing these first in the oil and adding a little salt and sprinkle of caraway seeds. This helps to bring out the sweetness held within their flavour. Cook slowly on a very low heat. Using a lid on the pan helps them sweat and can prevent them burning.
Once the onions have started to soften start, add the chopped leeks, again with the lid. Cook both until they turn velvety, then add the garlic. Adjust quantities to taste and if you’re using wild garlic, you may wish to use less. Some love garlic, other’s less so but go with what feels good for you.
Once the weave is made, combine the potatoes. A simple way to increase the depth of flavour, is to cook these down before adding the stock. The smaller the potato pieces, the quicker they will cook. This will help avoiding they burn and you can always add a little water. Using the lid again helps to retain moisture in the pan which in turn, will help gently steam the potatoes.
Once they have softened, add your medley of greens ~ nettles, wild garlic, Spring greens, spinach, whatever is at hand or available. Allow these a few moments to break down and absorb the flavours before adding the stock. The quantity you use can depend on your preference of consistency; for a thicker soup, pouring stock until all the vegetables are covered plus a further inch, is a good rule of thumb and more can always be added later.
Cook on a slow heat for 30 mins then remove and leave to stand for an hour or two. This enables the flavour to infuse a little more. If you eat dairy, it’s a great time to add a cheeky nob (or two!) of butter.
When you’re ready, blitz down. This soup is rather nice with the greens not fully blitzed but again, find your magic. And remember, explore, play and that next time, you can always give an extra twist here and there. I love adding caraway to the onions but you might prefer fresh mint or popping in some frozen peas before blitzing.
Serve with Oatly crème fraiche and toasted sunflower seeds with tamari. Enjoy the sweet taste of the beginnings of Spring in your bowl!