September 23, 2014

Autumn hedgerow spices make a warming soup extra special

We have made this soup on recent foraging courses in our wood and chef Chris Parry adapted it for our recent ‘foragers supper’ at the Exeter Arms in Derby  The recipe is here along with photos from the event in Derby and the recent vegetarian wild food weekend course.

Hogweed spiced sweet potato soup – serves 4

  • 1 onion skinned and chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 500g sweet potato peeled cut in to chunks
  • 50g butter
  • 1 tbsp Hogweed seeds roasted and ground (identification notes below)
  • Flaky sea salt
  • 1litre vegetable stock
  • Ground black pepper
  • Double cream (optional)

First roast the Hogweed seeds, to do this remove them from the stalks and measure out 1 tablespoon, put them into a heavy based frying pan and cook for a few minutes, moving them around so that they toast on both sides. A lovely orangey, cardamom like fragrance will come from the seeds as they toast – be careful they don’t burn. Once roasted grind them up in a pestle and mortar with a teaspoon of flaky sea salt.


vegy WF weekend Sept 14 107Meanwhile in a large saucepan, cook the onions slowly in the olive oil for 5 minutes or until soft, then add the ground Hogweed and salt mix and stir to coat the spices. Now add the butter and sweet potato and stir well, cook for a few minutes stirring occasionally. Add the stock and leave to simmer until the sweet potatoes are soft. Puree the soup with a stick blender, add pepper to taste and salt if necessary. Re-heat the soup and add a couple of spoonfuls of cream if you want a little luxury.


Chris Parry chef at the Exeter Arms swirled chorizo oil through his version of the soup.

Hogweed  – Heraclum sphodylium

hogweed seeds (2)

This perennial plant flowers from June to August, growing to 2m tall. It has hairy stems and leaves. The stems are hollow and grooved and usually have greyish purple tints. The leaves are very large at the base of the plant becoming smaller up the flowering stem. Each leaf is made up of usually 5 leaflets these have a coarsely toothed wavy edge making the leaflet look irregular. The flower buds appear in June encased in a papery wrapper and open in to an umbrella of grey white flowers approx 20cm across from June onwards. The seeds follow first as green discs which then dry out to form brown seeds as in the photo. Look carefully at the leaf shape to confirm your identification and check that the seed has a citrus, cardamom like scent.

Be sure of your identification. Hogweed is part of the umbelliferae family whose members can be tricky to identify, it does contain poisonous species so be careful. We recommend that you check your identification in a few different plant books or ideally come on a foraging course.

Urban foraging in Derby with the Exeter arms.



Vegetarian weekend course September 2014

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