Wild garlic has become all the rage recently and, along with forced rhubarb and asparagus, it has come to symbolise the arrival of spring. It has even become a staple at selected shops – although who doesn’t like to go for a bit of foraging for themselves?
I loved going with my mum to pick wild garlic as a child – we had an abundance in the woody bit of our garden so we didn’t have to walk far. 😉 She put it in absolutely everything: salads, risottos, polenta, with chicken and fish…just about anything that would respond to a bit of a garlic punch. Looking around on social media, it seems that wild garlic pesto is a firm favourite amongst many but please don’t stop yourself there, as you will see with this soup it works well in many dishes. The sky is your limit with this little green leaf!
Wild garlic comes from the family of the Liliaceae and flowers from April to June. It is best eaten before flowering, as once it has too many flowers its taste can turn woody and slightly bitter. Its scientific name is ‘allium ursinum’ – the second word of its name comes from the fact that brown bears love to eat its bulb, hence it’s also being called: ‘bear garlic’ and ‘bear’s leek’. If you are tempted to grow wild garlic yourself be aware that it is incredibly invasive and will grow exponentially year on year, suffocating other plants. Best to stick to pots in a shaded area…if!
About the Soup
Simply put…an amazing soup. Full of flavour, a perfect vibrant colour, seasonal and there’s a wonderful crunchy nutty hint thanks to the buckwheat! It’s perfection!…I can’t say it any differently! Using beans as a thickener works wonders for the creaminess of the soup and is great for your health. I’ve topped it with kefir, olive oil, shredded wild garlic and roasted buckwheat. Read below about switches you can make to change the soup to suit your taste or to best utilise what’s available to you.
Tips / Variations:
- Exchange the butter beans for any white bean such as: cannellini or haricot. Chickpeas should also be be a great variation – If you take them from the tin, cook them 10min in the stock before adding the wild garlic.
- Use bone broth for their beneficial attributes instead of vegetable stock.
- Not in wild garlic season? Add 1 crushed garlic clove to the onions and exchange the wild garlic with around 150g of spinach (or more).
- Love wild garlic? Feel free to add more to your soup…it’ll get more punchy!
- Toppings: so many possibilities!!! Crunchy chorizo, crumbled feta, toasted and chopped walnuts, crème fraîche, croutons, cooked shrimps…
- Make a dip! Fry the onion, garlic and spices. Add the remaining ingredients except the stock to your food processor along with a generous gulp of olive oil – blend, add more olive oil until you get the perfect consistency.
- Reduce waste by using dried beans.
More Green Stuff Please!
Include Beans in your Diet!
Instead of using potatoes as a soup thickener I choose the humble butter bean. Not only does it give you a super creamy soup but it also gives you a lovely nutritional boost. Beans are a great source of protein – hence their importance to vegetarians and vegans. Proteins play a vital role in building and repairing tissues and muscle in our body. Unfortunately, they are not a complete protein (except for soybeans) as they don’t contain all 9 essential amino acids – protein’s building blocks – it is therefore important to add other sources such as: nuts, dairy products, grains or seeds in the same meal. Beans are also packed with fibre which is great for maintaining our digestive health, lowering cholesterol and regulating blood sugar levels. And finally, they are a good source of: folate, potassium, iron, copper and antioxidants.
Wild Garlic & Butter Bean Soup with Roasted Buckwheat
This is soup perfection - not only for the wild garlic enthusiasts. It is full of flavour, has a perfect vibrant colour, is seasonal and there’s a wonderful crunchiness thanks to the buckwheat!
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium onion (±100g) – chopped
- 1/4-1/2 tsp coriander seeds (depending on your taste)
- 1/2-1 tsp cumin seeds (depending on your taste)
- 1 tin white beans (cooked 240g) – rinsed & drained
- 500ml vegetable stock – hot
- 75g soft goat cheese
- 50g wild garlic – set 4 leaves aside for the decoration!
- a dash of lemon juice
- 1 1/2 tbsp buckwheat
- 2 tbsp kefir (optional)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Heat the olive oil in a pan on medium heat and fry the onion, coriander, cumin seeds and a pinch of salt for 8-10 min until soft but not coloured.
- In the meantime prepare the roasted buckwheat: dry roast (without oil!) them in a separate pan on medium heat until fragrant. Takes around 5-10min. Set aside.
- Add the drained beans and the stock to the onions. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5min.
- Take the soup from the stove. Add the soft goat cheese, wild garlic (except for 4 leaves!) and the lemon juice, stir. Pour into a blender and blend until smooth – alternatively use a hand blender. Season to taste.
- Shred the 4 remaining wild garlic leaves.
- Pour the soup into 2 bowls. Top with a swirl of kefir – if using – and olive oil. Finish with a sprinkle of the roasted buckwheat and shredded wild garlic. Serve with some crusty bread.
- Bon Appétit!