Dandelion, the whole dandelion and nothing but… well, just a few other ingredients!
This is a delicious Miso soup with Dandelion leaves, stalks, and buds topped with crispy roasted roots and Mushrooms.
I’m very happy to have a garden as of last September. I’ve been improving the small space in my back garden, using the many rocks, pebbles and broken pots and slabs I’ve dug up to create a rockery.
While the back garden is satisfying my creative side, the larger space at the front is a more practical space.
To the untrained eye, it looks like a neglected mess of weeds but to me it is already a functioning Herb and Vegetable Garden.
Dandelions, Herb Robert, Sow Thistle, Plantain, Rosebay Willow Herb and Three Cornered Leeks to name but a few!
Reap Before You Sow
Reluctantly, I’m removing some of natures little gifts to make room for a few of my favourite cultivated vegetables. If I can’t replant them, I eat them!
So after a hard days work, I already had a harvest to enjoy!
I love Miso soup! I love the simplicity of it; The rich tasty broth is willing to accommodate almost any ingredients you have available, even if it’s just noodles!
What I most enjoyed about this particular version was the combination of textures; Soft leafy greens, the stems cooked with just enough bite and the crispy crunch of the roasted mushrooms and roots on top.
Dashi stock is a key ingredient for miso soup in Japan. Traditionally made with one or more of the following:
Kombu (a type of kelp seaweed native to Japanese waters)
Katsuobushi or Bonito flakes (dried, fermented smoked fish)
Shiitake Mushroom (dried)
The most important flavour element is “umami”, the fifth taste which comes after sweet, sour, salty and bitter. It is often described as the savoury taste but it’s much more than that. An in-depth explanation involves some sciency stuff about glutamates and chemical chain reactions… Look it up. All I know is that it’s good. Moreish!
All of those ingredients however, are native to Japan and expensive to buy here. As a forager and someone who cares about the planet and my impact on it, I prefer local ingredients (and preferably free!).
Mark Williams of Galloway Wild Foods is a great source of inspiration, when it comes to using local wild seasonings in place of the exotic imported spices we have become accustomed to.
As my own foraging skills increase, I hope to gain a supply of dried local seaweed and mushrooms for making my own Dashi stock. For now, I use a mushroom stock cube and some spirulina that lives in the back of my cupboard.
For the ingredients:
- Dandelion Leaves, Stems, Flower Buds and Roots.
- Garlic and Ginger Root
- Three Cornered Leeks
- Mushroom Stock
- Miso Paste
- Sriracha Hot Sauce to serve
First, I washed and picked through the dandelions. Roots cut at the base and washed. flower heads removed; the unopened buds set aside for use and the older, less appetising ones scrapped. Rather delightfully, my bowl of “scraps” transformed to this beautiful bowl of fluffy seeds! (I shall, of course let the wind take them where it will.)
Finally pick through to find the freshest stems and leaves for the soup.
Preparing Dandelion Roots.
I have recently discovered that these roots are quite tasty when cooked. They are very bitter raw but probably better for you!
I prefer to scrub the roots clean and drop them into boiling water for a minute or two before using.
Another method is to peel them by boiling for a few minutes, and then rubbing the skins off as with beetroot.
I always cook mushrooms first to remove the water content, I hate soggy mushrooms! For most of my life I thought I just hated mushrooms.
Thankfully I now know different. In fact, if there is anything you think you don’t like, consider the possibility that you just haven’t found your favourite way of preparing it yet…
For example, if your first introduction to Brussel Sprouts was one boiled to mush, you may, understandably, come to believe you hate Sprouts. It would be a shame to dismiss an entire vegetable before you have tried it lightly roasted with garlic and lemon juice.
Back to the soup…
So, while the mushrooms are cooking, prepare the stock (including spirulina) and begin roasting the roots.
I boiled the greens in water for a few minutes, I recommend also blanching the stems, as they took longer to cook then I expected.
Finely chop ginger, garlic and slice an onion.
remove the mushrooms from the pan and add to the oven with the roots (keep the heat fairly low so they don’t burn).
Fry onions in the pan and then add ginger and garlic.
Cook for a minute or two before adding the stock.
Add the dandelion greens, stems and buds. Grate a carrot and finely chop the three-cornered leeks, add these once the dandelion stems begin to soften.
(I reserved some chopped 3c leeks for garnish)
Miso paste contains probiotics (friendly bacteria) which are destroyed by boiling, so it’s important to add the paste after you have finished cooking the soup and it has been taken off the heat.
Mix the paste with a little stock (to prevent big lumps) and mix into the soup when you are ready to serve.
Top with the crunchy roots and shrooms and a drizzle of sriracha for heat (you could add fresh chilli’s with the ginger and garlic but I didn’t have any).
I really enjoyed this soup! So much so that I made it again a couple of days later as I still had dandelion greens and stems in the fridge but I liked it better with the roasted roots.
Give it a go! Make it to your own preference; the greens can be too bitter for some tastes, the stems and roots, less so, when cooked as above.
Share your recipe in the comments below, or ask any questions you have.
If you enjoyed reading, please share this with your friends to spread the word about these wonderful “weeds”!
Happy Foraging Foodies!