Winter is becoming like last night’s dream and any hazy reminders of its presence are starting to seem out of place. On seemingly dead wood once a tightly packed parcels have now opened to reveal their true nature, these little green miracles are growing with such vigour they are changing the landscape daily.
It might be a hungry gap in the garden, but it is anything but in the hedgerow. It’s one of the best times to head down to the coast and what’s more you can pretty much survive on what you forage. Last year I spent two weeks living off wild food, my diet was a highly nutritious one consisting of mostly seafood and burdock or alexanders root as my staple.
For those who can’t get down to the coast then out parks, fields and wastegrounds are abundant too. Wild garlic will be at its best this month, hawthorn leaves which can be added to salads, jack by the hedge is starting to appear everywhere too. Nettles too are full of goodness right now and the youngest ones can be eaten whole, cook first of course. But let us not forget everything that was growing in winter, how about a spot of Chorizo, chickweed and avocado soup?
Chorizo, chickweed and avocado soup
This light soup is very simple to make and packed full of flavour. Foraging for ingredients is different than shopping for them as you have to be somewhat opportunistic about what you find. That is until you get to really know an area; then it can be like find an aisle in a supermarket (although a lot more enjoyable). When I first made this recipe it was from a patch of chickweed I found growing in a media park. It had rained the previous day so the chickweed was looking lush and green and well, irresistible. I was surrounded by bemused media types as I picked, which made the foraging seem like a naughty act. I think this added to the enjoyment as there is nothing wrong a bit of adult rebellion.
6 slices (50g) Chorizo ham
2 tsp nettle or mustard seeds
Chop leak and ham and fry together. You don’t need oil as the fat in the Chorizo will do the job. Throw in the seeds. When the leak is starting to wild down, cut the avocado into small chucks and fry for 5 mins.
Roughly chop the chickweed add to pan then cook until wilted. Add stock and simmer gently for 10 mins stirring frequently to infuse the flavours.
Blitz in a blender and serve with a thick butter slice from a seeded loaf.
This can be made the evening before and heated up in the microwave at work. Or, for the early birds first thing then put in a flask. I tend to freeze batches of soup so I have them ready for lunch whenever I need them.