On a recent Sunday afternoon, I visited a fascinating European wild herbs workshop and cooking class.
I was amazed to learn that an abundance of innocent looking edible plants and wild herbs are literally growing everywhere.
However, we usually don't notice them while walking around meadows, forests, parks, and the "abandoned" corners of our gardens.
Our teacher previously worked for an environmental agency, and now she specializes in giving classes on finding and preparing wild herbs, which is a very popular hobby in Germany.
She showed us a variety of herbs and gave us tips and warnings about what to watch out for when gathering wild plants.
The next part of the class was preparing a vegetarian meal featuring the herbs we had learned about. We made a fresh green salad and a creamy dip using the herbs that our teacher had gathered from the garden.
For those with a sweet tooth, we made dandelion "honey" out of fresh dandelion blossoms. The yellow flowers were first brewed in boiling water to extract their flavor, then drained. The liquid extract was combined with raw sugar, and cooked again to make a syrup with the consistency of honey. We also baked fresh yeasted rolls, which were served with butter and this exotic, herbal tasting sweet treat.
My job in the class was to prepare a potato and wild garlic soup. Wild garlic, or "Baerlauch" in German, is a intensive and aromatic herb that grows in shady forest areas in Central Europe.
The soup was easy to prepare and had a lovely flavor, and I made it again yesterday at home for dinner with wild garlic I bought at the local farmer's market. The day before Good Friday is called Gruendonnerstag or "Green Thursday" in German, and one tradionally prepares food using fresh herbs, especially soups.
I thought it would be nice to share with you my version of this simple and healthy soup today.
Potato Herb Soup
4-5 cups vegetable broth
2 pounds potatoes, washed, peeled, and diced
2 small onions, chopped
juice of 1 lemon
1-2 cups finely chopped fresh herbs of your choice - chives, parsley, cilantro, thyme - use a mixture of your favorites
salt and pepper
more fresh, chopped herbs for garnish
Boil the vegetable broth in a large pot and add the chopped potatoes and onions. Let boil for 20-25 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Add lemon juice and fresh herbs and turn off the heat. Let flavors steep for 10 minutes, then puree all to your desired consistency, adding salt and pepper to taste, and more vegetable broth or hot water as needed. Serve garnished with a generous spoonful of sour cream and a sprinkle of fresh, chopped herbs. Enjoy!
This soup also reheats well. Just add more liquid as needed and adjust seasonings.
We are happy about the start of our four day holiday weekend today, and I will be back to share more of our Easter festivities this weekend. Hope you are doing well too!