A discovery of wild garlic inspires pesto – and a bit of experimentation with a soup

Whilst at home recently, the unusual and unexpectedly good April weather meant that we spent a lot of time outdoors in parks, forests and at the beach.

And one of those trips, to a popular area of Donegal in the south of Ireland, led me to the biggest patch of wild garlic I have ever seen. We rarely come across it in England, and the sites where it grows are closely guarded secrets, so it was a real surprise to walk along a certain path and come upon tons of it.

 

I couldn’t help but pluck a few handfuls to take home to cook with – when such a golden foraging opportunity presents itself, it would be a fool who didn’t take advantage of nature’s bounty. Aside from a soup many moons ago, I don’t recall ever having cooked with it, and I was keen to see what I could come up with.

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After washing what I’d carried back and weighing the leaves, I realised that I had enough to make both a pesto and a soup. I was most keen to sample a wild garlic pesto, so made that first. Pesto is one of those things which is so easy to make at home and so versatile to use. A little jar of homemade pesto makes a fantastic gift and many cooks would delight in a more unusual jar than, say, one made with basil.

I whizzed up the leaves with a number of ingredients including walnuts and olive oil, ending up with two jars of chunky pesto. Their trial with pasta and on bruschetta etc awaits!

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The remainder of the leaves were the perfect amount for a soup. Surfing cooking sites, I found a recipe for a soup which had as its base courgettes. When I made a batch, however, it was tasteless – a gutting result when there was a household awaiting a spoonful to sample. 

I tapped into my soup basics and started with the addition of some vegetable stock – the recipe had called for water and nothing else. Things were looking up, and then I remembered one of my favourite Covent Garden Soup Co soups, courgette and brie.

The soup’s garlic content was not obvious or overpowering, and the addition of the brie seemed to complement it well. A final dollop of the cream which was leftover from Sunday dessert, a little more whizzing and seasoning – I felt like Remy in Ratatouille as he leapt over a saucepan chucking in this and that to save his soup – and finally, thankfully, a more pleasurable tasting had been achieved.

Sitting down to a bowl of it, accompanied by some wheaten bread, made for a very satisfactory lunch indeed.

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