I haven’t blogged about my garden in a while, and there is no time like the present as here in the global South we move steadily into Summer with temperatures in Johannesburg heading into the upper 20’s, and the first of our wonderful seasonal thunderstorms making an appearance. For me there is nothing that shouts Summer like those lovely soothing Highveld rains, bringing moisture and nourishment to our thirsty gardens, and that unmistakable fresh earthy tang to the air. One of the tasks that I set myself as we go into our summertime here, is to try not to let anything go to waste, although our home grown compost heaps take care of any surplus anyway. Nevertheless, I like to make full use of all that we grow, so that it ends up on our plates as far as possible, and not on the compost heap. I grow a lot of Asian Greens here in our garden in the winter time. They grow beautifully here, in the relatively protected area under the branches of the almond and the apple trees, safe from the harshest of the cold and the threat of overnight winter frost. But come the first weeks of the warmer weather, typically from late August and beyond, the greens will rapidly go to seed, with little yellow flowers appearing on long stems which suddenly ‘bolt’ almost overnight in the warm, dry weather before the rains come.
The beauty of this is that as well as the leaves which is the part that we normally consume, the stems and flowers are also edible, and the small yellow flowers are a pretty garnish as a final touch. I have created my own version of a simple and nutritious Green Soup which is a healthy, easy way to use up those surplus greens which might otherwise become tough and leggy in the hot weather, ending up in the compost as a result. This year we also have loads of wild rocket (arugula) making an appearance around our lettuce and in other areas, and I’ve picked a load of that as well and included it in the soup mix. I made a batch of the soup a few nights ago (we eat a lot of soup in our house, and not necessarily only in the cooler months—LOVE a nice soup J) which we followed with a simple and delicious butternut and sage pasta (also a really nice simple dish which can be done in the slowcooker).
So here is the Green Soup recipe (not set in stone of course, please feel free to tweak and to improvise—maybe try other greens such as spinach or kale, although these may need longer cooking):
Amanda’s Green Soup
- 200 grams mixed Asian greens (can include other greens here such as rocket, spinach, lettuce, nasturtium leaves)
- One third (or more) of a cup of fresh or frozen green peas or beans
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 to 3 cups of chicken or veggie stock
- 1 cup milk or vegan substitute
Soften the onion and garlic in a little olive oil, just till lightly golden.
Tear up the greens, or chop them roughly. Reserve any flower heads for later.
Add the legumes and the rinsed greens (shake off most of the water first) to the onion and garlic mix, and stir through till coated with oil.
Keep the heat low and the lid on, allowing the whole mixture to soften for about 10 minutes.
Lift the lid once or twice to check that it doesn’t stick. Add a touch of water if needed.
Add the stock and cook through at a simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.
Add the milk, and extra stock if needed, and keep simmering for another 5 to 10 minutes.
Allow the soup to cool down for a few minutes till it stops steaming, and then blend till smooth in a food processor or with a stick blender.
Taste for seasoning, add extra herbs, salt, pepper as needed, and garnish with a sprinkling of the yellow flowers.
Enjoy and hopefully repeat in due course!