I was going to call this post Sustainable Soup. Except for adding some olive oil, honey, salt and pepper, I made it entirely from plants that have been growing happily in the allotment or backyard for several years now without any energy from me save an occasional weed and compost mulch. But I liked the sound of Saturday Soup better.
Saturday Soup ingredients
I collected the ingredients last night and spread them on the kitchen table for their photo this morning. Starting from the top-left corner they are: Good King Henry, lovage, allium leaves (potato onion, welsh onion, chives), thyme, sage, pot marjoram and sorrel.
To make the soup I chopped everything in the picture above, discarding the thyme stalks and the Good King Henry stalks (but including the flowers). Then I gently softened the allium leaves in some olive oil, added the Good King Henry, lovage and herbs with two pints of water and simmered it all for about ten minutes (maybe a bit less). The sorrel went in next with some salt and pepper and then I puréed it all with a hand blender and tasted it.
Too bitter! I love Good King Henry cooked just like spinach and haven't before felt the need to rub salt into the leaves or soak them to reduce their bitterness as others do. But this was definitely too bitter. Never mind, this ehow.com page came to the rescue! Following the advice I added some more salt and then some honey and then some more olive oil. Much better - but a little thin. I remembered that musk mallow thickens soup and added a good handful from an exuberant plant that's growing in a shady corner of the backyard. I also added some more garden sorrel and some mountain sorrel (Oxyria digyna) from pots in the garden and puréed it all again. (Usefully for on-hand ingredients from shady town gardens, both the mountain sorrel and the mallow seem to revel in shade and garden sorrel and Good King Henry also seem quite happy in a semi-shaded spot).
Soup with a sprig of mountain sorrel
I now had Satisfying, Sustainable, Saturday Soup and have just enjoyed it for lunch. So next time more sorrel and less Good King Henry (or treat the leaves first. I understand one can either soak in salt water for half an hour and discard the water or rub salt into the leaves and rinse after a few minutes). Also on a cold day I might add a starchy perennial component such as skirret (or stored oca). That would make an especially sustaining, satisfying, sustainable, Saturday Soup!
N.B. I sell a range of perennial vegetable plants on my website.