Spring Soup

11:58 pm on 4 September 2009

(Serves 4 - 6)


  • 750 ml light chicken stock
  • 1 kg peas in the pod
  • 1 large handful flat leaf parsley
  • 2 leeks
  • 3 heads green garlic
  • 2 large handfuls nettles (or 1 horseradish root)
  • 2 bunches sorrel
  • 2 large bunches spinach
  • 100 gms cavolo nero leaves
  • 100 ml olive oil
  • 2 sprig thyme
  • 1 bunch mint leaves
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper


Put the stock into a saucepan, then shell peas and add pods to the stock. Wash parsley, then pick the leaves and add the stalks to stock. Bring stock to a boil.

Wash garlic and leeks and cut into 1 cm rounds. Wearing gloves pick nettle leaves from stalks, then wash well and spin or shake dry and drain on a paper towel.

Trim stalks from sorrel, spinach and cavolo nero and wash similarly.

Heat olive oil over a moderate flame in a medium sized stockpot. Sweat garlic and leek for several minutes until tender, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon to avoid browning. Strain stock into pot, then add thyme and bring to a boil. Throw in three-quarters of the nettles, all the peas and cavolo nero, then lower heat and maintain a steady boil for about 5 minutes until peas are tender. Add parsley leaves and spinach and the minute the pot returns to a boil, remove from stove and allow to cool to room temperature.

Ladle cooled soup into a blender, removing thyme stalks as you go, then add sorrel and mint and blend for several minutes.

Pass through a fine sieve or the fine blade of a mouli, then season well.

Reheat soup by bringing to the boil with saved nettles leaves, then serve. If you like you can fry leaves in a little olive oil until crisp, then scatter over the soup before serving.

From Afternoons with Jesse Mulligan

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