Ground Elder Soup

For all those who spent part of their weekend grubbing up yet more ground elder from some of the darker recesses of the garden here is an opportunity to get some revenge.

1 heaped colander of ground elder leaves
2 oz butter
similar amount of flour
2/3 pints of good stock
A small onion, chopped
Half a pint of milk
Salt and pepper

Wash the leaves well, the younger ones will be best, and then cook in a little boiling, salted water. Drain well.

Melt the butter at the bottom of a good sized saucepan and add the onion. Cook gently for a few minutes until it starts to soften. Stir in the flour and cook for a couple more minutes. Add the stock and slowly bring to the boil, stirring continuously so that it thickens smoothly.  Season and add the ground elder leaves and simmer for 15 minutes. Put the soup through a food mill or sieve (see previous post). Pour the milk through the food mill or sieve to rub through as much of the puree as possible Reheat and eat with chunks of good bread ideally sat outside in the full knowledge that the pernicious weed will still be there in the garden long after you have hung up your gardening tools.

The recipe is taken from a book called All Good Things Around Us by Pamela Michael, a guide to the recognition and uses of over 90 wild plants and hebs. The copy I have was published in 1980 and was bought in a second hand bookshop in Bath. In the entry on ground elder she quotes from a 17th century writer, Gerard, who noted that ground elder “is so fruitful in his increase that where it hath once taken roote, it will be hardly  be gotten out again, spoiling and getting every yeere more ground, to the annoying of better herbes”. Don’t we know.

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