Forage Potage

(faw-razh paw-tahzh)

A thick soup, stew, or porridge in which found or scavenged items are boiled together until they form a thick mush.

Yes, this one was a real hodge-podge.

  • Ramps, the spring-heralding, wild allium that gave Chicago its name, picked up at the season’s first Headhouse Farmers’ Market Sunday.
  • Stinging nettles—another truly foraged plant—that came to me through barter with a fellow Philly Food Swapper (hope you enjoyed the rhubarb, Kelly).
  • One lonely, winter-CSA carrot (surprisingly still crisp), found at the bottom of the drawer Monday morning when I cleaned out the fridge in preparation for this week’s first summer-CSA delivery.
  • Leftover white sweet potatoes that had been wrapped in foil and grilled to accompany Sunday night’s pork chops.
  • A pint jar of chicken stock I’d made a few weeks ago and had lost sight of behind some partial bottles of wine.

No magic. I just blanched the nettles (don’t skip that step), sautéed the veggies in a little butter, added stock, let it hang out for about 20 minutes, and then puréed it.

Delicious. Fresh. Lightly garlicky. Not terribly heavy. And so brilliantly green it’s just got to be good for you.

Seriously Green
Seriously green lunch. Better take my toothbrush to work.
Ramp-and-Nettle Soup

Use what you’ve got. No ramps? Try spring onions, garlic scapes, leeks, and/or shallots. If I’d had regular taters, I’d have used them, but I didn’t. Got a stray turnip or rutabaga? Dice it up and toss it in. Sub spinach or kale or sorrel (or a combo) for the nettles. Make it vegan-friendly by sticking with veggie stock and olive oil. Yields four small servings.

  • 4 oz nettles (don’t touch them with your bare hands until they’re cooked)
  • 3 oz fresh ramps (about 10), washed and trimmed of their roots
  • 1 medium carrot, diced
  • 1 medium white sweet or Yukon potato, diced
  • 2 tbsp butter or oil
  • 1 pint stock

Be not afraid of the nettle. Though touching fresh leaves will indeed irritate your skin for a few minutes, stinging nettles are delicious, (think lemony spinach), nutrient-dense, and well worth the extra prep step.

Bag o' Greens
Touch only the bag—or use gloves or tongs.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Tip the nettles right from their bag into the water and simmer for 3-4 minutes, using tongs to push down any stems that float above the water line.

Drain well. When they’re cool enough to handle, trim off and discard any larger stems. Squeeze out as much water as you can from the remaining leaves, either with your bare hands or pressing against the colander. Finally, give it all a rough chop.

Wad o' Greens
That whole 4-ounce bag cooked and compressed into a tennis ball-sized hunk of lemony-green goodness.

Trim and discard the roots from the ramps. Chop the whites and about half the greens, reserving the rest for another use (say, pesto or hummus).

Rampage
Don’t you just love it when weeds turn out to be delicious?

Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the ramps first; cook gently for a few minutes, until they start to soften. Add the diced carrot, and, in a few more minutes, the potato and the nettles. Sprinkle in a little salt and pepper, and add the stock.

Simmer for 15-20 minutes, until all the veggies are soft.

Use an immersion or vented, heavy-duty blender (I used my Vitamix) to purée the soup until velvety smooth. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

If you want to get fancy, garnish with something tangy—perhaps creme fraiche, plain yogurt, or crumbled goat cheese.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Amelia says:

    Happened to see this post before I hit the Farmer’s market this Saturday, so was inspired to buy some nettles and ramps, which I had never tried. Had the sweet potato and carrot on hand so was able to follow the vegan recipe option. Really bright green – felt Ike I was eating true spring flavors. Thanks, Susan!

    1. Susan says:

      Yay! So glad that worked out. we really liked it, too. P.S. watch your email for news on Sheil’s birthday hootenanny.

  2. I’m late to this, but bookmarking it to make next year! Thank you again for the rhubarb–I roasted some and made the rest into a lovely syrup for cocktails!

    1. Susan says:

      Of course, Kelly. I may have one last rhubarb cutting left. Will keep you posted on the cherries.

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