Soups can be made from many wild plants, as long as they are edible. The plants used need to have distinct flavours, to make the soups worth eating. Fungi, and edible leaves, make up the majority of the soups, with a few fruits.
The soups may be clear or thick and creamy. As Britain is generally a cold damp place, most soups are thick and creamy and served hot. Generally they are thickened using either potato starch or flour. Onions and garlic are often added, firstly to bring out the flavours, but secondly because they provide protection from the common winter ailments of colds and flu. They are often further richened by the addition of cream or yogurt.
Many of these soups are very nourishing, as the leaves used are rich in vitamins, and minerals such as iron. Many are listed in “herbals” as cures for various ailments.
Most of the leaves used are soft and readily collapse on cooking. This enables them to be easily pureed by either rubbing them through a sieve the traditional way or using a liquidiser.
I have not quoted any “broths” where meats are used; these are all vegetarian soups. Many do not have any fat or oil and are obvious candidates for the healthy eaters.
Oil may be substituted for butter but some flavours will be lost.
Springtime is an ideal time for soups like these as young plant leaves are tender and freshly sprouted. They are full of concentrated nutrients.
Do be sure that you can recognise the plants before gathering them!
Most of the soups require you to have certain basic ingredients to hand. The chief ones required are as follows.
Chicken stock, finely chopped onion, cubed or finely sliced potato, butter or oil to fry, cream or yogurt for the final stage and seasoning, especially black pepper.
Other useful items to have to hand are:
Mixed herbs, Thyme and Parsley. Mixed spice, Nutmeg and Mace, Garlic, lemon juice, milk eggs, and plain flour or cornflour.
The ones that I have brought for you to try are on the list of recipes. They are firstly a cold soup often served in summer—– Watercress.
Secondly a thick main course soup———–. Chestnut. (Try this with fresh bread.)
Thirdly a light fat free green soup————-Chickweed.
Fourthly a creamy highly nourishing soup—–Comfrey.
Finally a creamy full flavoured soup made from everybody’s favorite weed—————–Nettle.