Its wonderful aroma is starting to fill the air in the woodlands around the farm and there are carpets of green leaves. Wild garlic season has arrived.
Wild garlic is one of my favourite foraged foods and it’s widely available in wooded areas around the UK. It’s easy to find (you’ll most likely smell it before you see it) and can be used as you would normal garlic, you just need to use it sparingly as it can be much stronger than garlic cloves. Start with a small handful of chopped leaves to replace a single clove and taste it as you go.
Spring green minestrone
This is a twist on the classic tomato-based soup, using the best of the season’s green vegetables – beans, courgettes, peas and broad beans. Full of nutrients, the bone broth also packs it with flavour and a hit of goodness. I like a chicken broth as it makes use of leftover bones from a Sunday roast, but you could also use a home-made or good-quality vegetable stock. This is a versatile recipe so you can really use whatever vegetables you like – just adjust them according to what you have in your garden or what’s in season.
2 tbsp olive oil
225g spinach, washed
225g rocket, washed
1 onion, diced
2 celery sticks, diced
2 courgettes, diced
2 leeks, trimmed, washed and diced
180g green beans, trimmed and diced
1.2 litres chicken bone broth or good-quality vegetable stock
bouquet garni (sprig of parsley, bay leaf and sprig of thyme tied with string)
100g broad beans, tough skins removed
juice of ½ lemon
salt and pepper
For the wild garlic pesto
130g wild garlic leaves
1 garlic clove, sliced
130ml olive oil
3 tbsp pumpkin seeds, lightly toasted in a dry pan
25g Parmesan, grated
Start by making the pesto: mix half the wild garlic leaves with the garlic and olive oil and leave to stand for10 minutes, then add to a food processor or blender and blitz to a smooth paste. Add the remaining garlic leaves with the pumpkin seeds and Parmesan and pulse for a few seconds until you have a coarse pesto. Taste and season as necessary.
For the soup, heat the olive oil in a pan and wilt the spinach and rocket. Remove from the pan, cool and roughly chop. Add the onion and celery to the same pan and cook for about 10 minutes until softened, then add the courgettes, leeks and beans and sauté for 5 minutes.
Pour in the stock, add the bouquet garni, bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes, then add the peas and broad beans. Add the wilted spinach and rocket with the lemon juice and check for seasoning.
Serve in warmed bowls with a large spoonful of the pesto on top of each.