THIS week of sunshine and bitter cold makes me feel like light spring soups. Warm, comforting and gluten free. I don’t use any thickening like flour or potatoes in my summer soups relying on the bulk of the vegetables to thicken it enough. I do indulge in a swirl of cream to add a dose of luxury, though.

You can use a vegetable stock (home-made or cube) but this soup works well with seasoning and celery salt to add enough flavour. The fennel bulbs in the shops now are at their best: white, bulbous and deliciously crisp. Try making a fennel and blood orange salad, simply dressed with extra virgin olive oil and sea salt. Refreshing and beautiful, it’s a perfect accompaniment to grilled lamb or fish.

You can buy wild garlic in the shops now but why not forage for some yourself? Go for a walk in any wooded area and you will smell and see swathes of wild garlic, wide glossy leaves with white star shaped flowers – food for free! Check images online to make sure you are picking the correct leaves but there is so much and it smells so garlicky you can hardly miss it. Make wild garlic pesto or add some to soups like this one.

Fennel and wild garlic soup


60g unsalted butter

1 large onion, finely chopped

4-6 sticks celery

1-2 large fennel bulbs

5-6 leaves wild garlic finely chopped

vegetable stock or water

Celery salt

Single cream

Flat leaf parsley, fennel fronds


Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan.

Add the chopped onion, turn in the butter and sauté with the lid on until the onion softens.

Use a potato peeler to remove the outside fibres of the celery and finely chop.

Add to the onion, stir, and continue to sauté.

Prepare the fennel by trimming the base and any coarse stalks. Trim the green fennel fronds and set aside for garnishing the soup.

Cut the fennel in half lengthwise, trim the coarse white core at the base and then finely slice.

Add to the pot with the wild garlic and stir.

Now cover the vegetables with enough boiling hot water or stock to cover. Adding hot water keeps the soup fresh.

Simmer for 20-25 minutes until the fennel is soft and collapsing.

Use a blender to whisk to a smooth soup, adding more water if it is too thick.

Add a sprinkling of celery salt and seasoning to taste.

Finish the soup with a generous swirl of single cream or crème fraiche and a scattering of finely chopped flat leaf parsley and the fennel fronds.