In the spring ramslök (wild garlic) can be found growing in forests in southern Sweden. Wild garlic soup has become rather fashionable lately, although it has never been quite as popular as nässelsoppa (nettle soup) in Sweden, probably because it is much easier to find nettles. However, wild garlic is much nicer to pick so if you have any wild garlic growing near you it is worth picking some to make this delicious soup.
Wild garlic normally only grows in woodland and looks rather like Lily of the Valley. Take care to ensue that when you rub the leaves they smell of garlic because Lily of the Valley is poisonous.
The leaves are at their best between late April and May, preferably before it comes into flower. The flowers are very attractive, but by the time wild garlic comes into flower the leaves are getting too big and they can be a little bitter.
Unlike with cultivated garlic, only the leaves are picked, as the bulbs are far too small to be of any use in cooking. The leaves can be picked by hand or you can cut them with a pair of scissors. Obviously, don’t pick too many in one area so the plants will come again next year.
Wild garlic pesto is probably more popular than soup, but I make both and use the pesto to make a cream and for a garnish.
Preparation: 5 minutes
Cooking: 25 minutes
TOTAL: 30 minutes
• Wild garlic is quite bulky so you will need about a third of a carried bag of wild garlic. Around 50 grams of wild garlic is sufficient for the pesto recipe below.
• There is normally no need to wash wild garlic, simply pick over the leaves to remove any moss, grass or other leaves, although you may want to give it a quick rinse if you picked it near a popular dog walking spot!
• The potato is added as a thickener. If the soup is still too thin, mix a tablespoon of flour with some water and then add it to the soup and bring to the boil before adding the soured cream.
• Serve the soup with a good rye bread or some nice crusty white bread.
15 g (1 tbsp) butter
1 medium onion, about 120 g
2 medium potatoes, about 200 g
2 celery sticks
1 litre (4 cups) good quality vegetable stock
200 g (8 cups) wild garlic leaves
170 ml (¾ cup) gräddfil or soured cream
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
grated nutmeg to taste
lemon juice to taste, optional
Garnish for 4 bowls
6-8 tbsp wild garlic cream, see below
2-3 tsp wild garlic pesto, see below
finely chopped wild garlic leaves
grated nutmeg, optional
1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan and add the onions. Fry gently until softened, without colouring.
2. Add the potatoes, celery and stock. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes until the potatoes are cooked.
3. Add the wild garlic and continue to cook for a minute of two until it has all wilted.
4. Pour into a blender and blitz for about 5 minutes until fairly smooth.
5. Return to the saucepan and add the soured cream, salt and pepper, grated nutmeg (I used about a quarter of a nutmeg) and, if desired, lemon juice.
6. Heat without boiling, taste and adjust the seasoning again.
7. Pour into warmed soup bowls and garnish with a little wild garlic pesto, wild garlic cream, chopped wild garlic leaves and, if desired, some grated nutmeg.
You can either start by making the wild garlic pesto or you can make this whilst the potatoes are cooking, as in step 2 above. (You could substitute shallots or onion for the leek, pine nuts or almonds instead of walnuts, olive oil instead of rapeseed oil and any similar hard cheese to Parmesan. I simply fancied a change from ordinary pesto!)
50 g (2 cups) wild garlic leaves
25 g (2 tbsp) leek, roughly sliced
25 g (3 tbsp) walnuts
75 g (5 tbsp) rapeseed oil
25 g (4 tbsp) Parmesan cheese, finely grated
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp caster (superfine) sugar
1 tbsp extra rapeseed oil
Pick over the leaves and then place them in a food processor with the leek or shallot, walnuts or pine nuts and the rapeseed or olive oil. Blitz for a minute until finely mixed and then fold in the grated cheese, salt and sugar. Pour into a sterilised jar, pressing down well to remove any air bubbles. Pour over another tablespoon of oil to ensure the surface is covered with oil. Keep in the fridge until required.
When required, stir in the oil and use as necessary. Before returning the jar to a fridge, add some more oil to ensure that the surface is covered. The pesto is superb on bread, stirred into pasta or even added to a bread dough.
Wild garlic cream
For 4 people: mix 6 tablespoons of crème fraîche with 2 tablespoons of wild garlic pesto.
Recipe courtesy of John Duxbury, editor and founder of Swedish Food.