Daily Archives: May 13, 2010

Wild about wild leeks

"Field" of wild leeks in the forest

This blog has been written before.  Honest.  Read my blogs from the 2009 leek foraging season:  http://centria.wordpress.com/2009/05/15/triple-header-hummingbirds-wild-leeks-and-garden/ and http://centria.wordpress.com/2009/05/06/the-recipe-for-wild-leek-soup/.

It will probably be written again.

But let’s repeat ourselves:  We love wild leek soup.  And we hope you do, too.

Impenetrable swamp

This year’s wild leek adventure happened Wednesday after a morning at work.  I changed my shoes and drove to the Secret Spot.  Yes, the wild leek spot is secret…just like the morel mushroom spot.  Do not ask.  You can try to figure it out, but you probably won’t.  Unless you follow me from work every day in May.  Even then–if I notice a car following me–you won’t find it.  That’s the way it is in the Northwoods.

Unfortunately, Memory is not one of my strong traits.  Last year (and the year before) after fighting my way through thick swamplands I vowed:  do not go in the swamp next year.  There is an easier way.  Go down the road a little and then venture in toward the leek-fields.

Unfortunately, I did not recall this good inner advice.  Headed right into the thickets of the swamp.

Want some swamp-walking advice?  Next time you find yourself walking in a swamp with branches pelting your face and poking you in the eye, you’re going to want to run screaming through the impenetrable brush.  Wrong move.  Take it from an experienced swamp-walker.

Instead you want to sloooowwwww down.  Go slow.  Creep.  Go slower than you want.  Breathe deeply.  The slowness then allows you to navigate through the thickets like you’re in a slow-motion dance.  You start to appreciate the hike.  Well, sort of.  You at least make your way through without ripped clothing and muddy soaked shoes.  Please remember.  Next time you’re tempted to run screaming through a swamp, trying to get out–slow down.  Real slow.

Digging up the pungent beauties

Wild leeks only grow in certain places.  We haven’t found a wild leek on our property yet.  (Although we’re tempted to plant some of these beauties and grow our own patch.) 

After the swamp adventure I eventually saw Light and then tried to remember whether to turn left or right to reach the field.  Best bet:  left.  Luckily Memory served in this instance!  After about ten minutes of searching, the bright green wave of wild leek banners met the eye.

Newly picked wild leeks atop grocery bag

The cultivator then digs ‘em up.  There is an art to this, as well.  At first I dug them impatiently.  Shame, shame.  A better way exists.  I don’t know how to share it with you without sounding foolish.  But here goes.  You almost have to talk to the wild leeks.  You ask them permission to lift their underground roots and eat them in soup. 

I swear by all the Wild Leek gods that the leeks–which in the beginning proved impossible to dig without grunting and frowning–suddenly began to glide effortlessly from the soil. 

Since this cannot be proven you must dig your own leeks and ascertain the advisability of talking to leeks first.  See about the level of cultivation cooperation.  Then report back here.  Please come and back me up. 

Newly washed in sink...ready for soup!

Now we’ve fast-forwarded to this year’s recipe.  We liked it better than last year’s recipe.  Please get your pen and write it down:

Wild Leek Soup with Potatoes, Carrots, Rosemary & Cilantro (thanks to my friend Victoria over there in Portugal for the inspiration!)

1 cup of wild leeks (include whites, the red part and a little bit of the green)

saute the leeks in 1 T. olive oil and a pinch of salt.

Add 1 quart rich vegetable broth.  (I always cook celery stalks, carrots, onion and other mild vegetables and whir them together in the blender.  Freeze or use immediately.)

1 1/2 cups diced potatoes

1/2 cup minced carrot

1 t. rosemary.  Use fingers to break up the teeny sticks. 

Bring to a boil, then simmer melodically while you prepare a salad and heat up some bread.  Simmer for maybe 15 minutes, until carrot and potato are nicely done.

Add 3/4 cup milk (soymilk if you happen to be us) mixed with 1 t. cornstarch or arrowroot.  Lavishly toss in 1/4 cup of cilantro and maybe 1 t. salt and some pepper.

Eat.  Eat astounded.  Eat in deep appreciation.  Thank the wild leeks.  Abundantly.

P.S.  If you are not yet tired of reading about the inestimable qualities of wild leeks please click here.  You can read what I wrote yesterday when still dazed and in the spell of wild leeks.