Monday, March 09, 2020

Wild and Free Food - Greens Soup

I made a small batch of soup early last week.  It is delicious, but not terribly photogenic!

It lasted through 3 meals, which is plenty for me, but if you have a family to cook for, this recipe is very flexible, so double or triple it for your crowd.  If you're interested in learning more about wild foods and how to get them onto the table, this recipe is almost foolproof and so delicious that it will please a lot of people who wouldn't normally *voluntarily* eat weeds. You might also want to check out our book - Wild Foods for Every Table.

This particular pot of soup contained a couple of cheats.  Sometimes the plants show up when we haven't prepared.  I used bouillon and instant potatoes for the base.  You may certainly use the real thing instead!  This was a spur of the moment, thrown together thing - which is part of the beauty of food just coming up out of the ground, unbidden!
Potatoes are rarely in the house, and a $1 bag of instant can last a month or two because it's only used in soups.  There is NEVER enough broth around here.  The soup was spectacular.  Here we go...
Starting on the left, chickweed, cheese, mushrooms, nettles, and wild onions down the center.
1 quart stinging nettles
2 cups chickweed
3 or 4 wild onions
1 pint mushrooms (any kind)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 large bouillon cube - chicken or vegetable
1/2 cup instant mashed potatoes
Splash of olive oil
6 cups water

First, a walk around the yard,  The nettles are up about 3 or 4 inches, and are growing thickly.  It took no time to gather a quart of them.  No onions in the house, so I grabbed a few wild onions/garlic.
stinging nettles
~Inside, rinse the greens, pick through them, and then chop them up a bit with kitchen shears. 
~Peel the onions and chop finely.
~Put oil into a 2 qt pan, and LIGHTLY saute the onions. Add mushrooms.
~If needed, use a little more oil.
~Add 2 cups water with the bouillon when the mushrooms are a releasing some liquid and softening. Heat on medium high until it starts to simmer.  In the meantime...
~Mix the instant potatoes into remaining quart of water and pour into the pan.
~When it starts heating up, dump in the greens.
~As soon as the broth starts a light boil and the greens soften, use an immersion blender until most (but not all) of the mushrooms and greens are blended.  If you don't have an immersion blender, put about 1/2 of the soup into a blender until smooth.
~Add the cheese and stir.  Use additional cheese as a garnish. 
~I had some leftover chicken that went in at the end.  Croutons would be delicious too.
Chickweed (about 4x life size)
All in all, this was probably 1/2 an hour from yard to table, and it was really good. 
There were a couple other greens out today.  In the next month or so, the selections will be too many to list.
Hairy Bittercress

Ground Ivy (among many names)
Red Dead Nettle
All of these can be used, as well as garlic mustard, plantain, daylily leaves, dandelion leaves, violet leaves, clover, and on and on...  You CAN even use domesticated vegetables, if you like :-)

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