In the March 2013 issue of Martha Stewart Living, readers get a chance to learn how to find ingredients in a totally new way- by foraging for weeds, seeds, and plants in the wild! Tama Matsuoka Wong, who has written the book Foraged Flavor: Finding Fabulous Ingredients in Your Backyard or Farmer’s Market, takes readers on a journey in her own backyard in New Jersey to find all manner of wild edibles. She says she is inspired by the basic weeds that anyone can find in their own yards or nearby fields: ‘weeds’ and ‘pests’ such as dandelion, mugwort, Japanese knotweed and broadleaf dock.
Wong finds wild foods on her own 28-acre property, but also works as a professional forager (do you think that job is on the Census..?) to supply restaurants and chefs. She works to teach people about the value of ‘weeds’ for food, but also to inspire a sense of responsibility and conservation among kids and adults alike. As she says, if kids learn a sense of land stewardship and know and love nature, “they are less likely to destroy it.”
Here’s an awesome recipe for Mugwort Soup which features only one of 300 varieties of Mugwort. For this soup, Wong recommends Artemisia vulgaris as other varieties might be too bitter. If you can’t find mugwort, try the watercress variation (I bet this would work with kale too!) Reprinted with permission from Martha Stewart Living.
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion or 3 small spring onions,
thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
2 cloves garlic, minced
10 medium white mushrooms (about 7 ounces), sliced
1 large Yukon Gold or russet potato (about 14 ounces), peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
6 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup heavy cream
4 ounces tender mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris)
or watercress leaves (about 8 cups)
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
- Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until softened, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and mushrooms; cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add potato and broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Simmer until potato is tender, about 20 minutes.
- Add cream and mugwort, and simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Purée soup in batches in a blender until smooth. Return soup to pot. Add Tabasco to taste; season with salt and pepper
Photos and recipe reprinted with generous permission of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia.