Wild garlic, nettle and barley soup

[Serves 4–6]

This uplifting soup demands a meander in your local parklands
or wooded area, where you’ll find the slender garlic spears offering
up its persistent scent to the breeze. The season can run from late
spring to early summer, and wild garlic tends to be rampant wherever
it grows. The white flower is easily recognised, though some
aficionados prefer the milder flavour pre-blossom. Always forage

3–4 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
250g wild garlic, washed
250g young nettles, washed (be sure to wear gloves!)
250g pearl barley, washed
2 large floury potatoes, peeled and diced
1 litre vegetable stock
Salt and pepper

Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-based pot over a medium heat. Add
the onion, reduce the heat and gently sweat to draw out the moisture
and sweetness.

Once the onion has turned opaque, you can add all the other
ingredients and simmer until barley is soft and potatoes are cooked,
about 15–20 minutes.

Allow to cool a little before blending with a stick blender and season
well to taste. If you prefer, you could leave this as a chunky soup,
or just blitz it a little to thicken the broth but to hold some of the

If you picked the wild garlic while in blossom, their pretty white
flower would make an attractive garnish scattered over the top.

Always use gloves when picking nettles, and choose the young tender
tips. It’s worth picking slightly away from pathways or roadsides, and
avoiding the lower leaves which may have caught the scented spray of a
passing dog or cat!


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