I’ve always liked the idea of free food, and cooking a meal with ingredients foraged from nature’s bountiful larder holds a romantic and atavistic appeal. Sadly Bethnal Green doesn’t offer many opportunities for living off the land. You’ll struggle to find a morel growing among the KFC cartons and general crap along the Mile End Road, wild garlic is a rare sight in Globe Town, and any nettle you find fighting for life amid the concrete madness of Tower Hamlets is likely to have been enthusiastically visited by every dog on the estate.
‘Natures Bounty’ Wiltshire countryside.
Fortunately this wet bank holiday weekend we managed to escape the city, hop on a train to the Wiltshire countryside, and get down with nature. In a brief let up in the 48 hours of rain, I put on Blogger-D’s mother’s overcoat, a pair of rubber gloves and dashed out to the garden to harvest a bagful of nettles. This soup was the result.
‘Natures Bounty’ Victoria Park Pond, Bethnal Green.
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Skill level: (Apart from the picking) Easy
- nettles – carrier bagful
- 2 small leeks – sliced
- 1 onion – chopped
- 2 stalks of celery – chopped
- vegetable stock – 1 litre
- garlic – 3 cloves – crushed
- nutmeg – pinch
- olive oil
- yoghurt, cream or crÃ©me fraÃ®che – blob
- s & p
Put on some rubber gloves and very carefully remove the nettle leaves from the stems. Keep the leaves, discard the stems.
Heat some oil in a large saucepan, add the garlic, nutmeg, leeks, onion and celery and sautÃ© for 10 minutes until the vegetables begin to soften.
Add the stock, bring to the boil, add the nettles and simmer for 10 minutes.
Liquidise to a green delight, return to the heat and season.
Serve with (or without) a blob of yoghurt, cream or crÃ©me fraÃ®che.
Verdict: A bit spinachy, a bit rockety. Not bad at all. It doesn’t sting by the way.
Drink: A few beers from Belguim.
Entertainment: Two episodes of ’24’ on DVD. It’s lunchtime and Jack’s in trouble.