Bolting herb soup

Serves 4-6

If, like me, you have a herb and salad garden that gets a little out of control at times and your plants start bolting, don't panic. The occasional cut back will certainly encourage growth and I like to serve the odd herb flower and bolting top in a salad or make a chilled soup like this.

Don't be tempted to use strong herbs or salads – thyme and lovage, for example, can kill a dish like this. But rocket tops and flowers are fine.

The tops from 2-3 spring onions or leeks or a handful of chive tops
1tbsp rapeseed oil
1tbsp flour
1.5 litres vegetable stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2-3 large handfuls of herb and salad tops or the herbs themselves ( basil, chives, parsley, parcel, tarragon, salad tops etc)

Gently cook the spring onions, leeks or chives for 30 seconds or so in the vegetable oil. Add the flour and stir well, then gradually add the vegetable stock and any stalks from your herbs and season.

Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 20 minutes. Add the bolted tops and/or herbs and simmer for 2 further minutes, and only then remove from the heat.

Blend until smooth in a liquidiser then strain through a medium strainer, as a fine- meshed sieve will not allow some of the bits of herbs through. To keep its green colour, you need to cool the soup down as quickly as possible, so put the bowl of strained soup over another bowl of iced water. Re-season if necessary and serve from the fridge.

If you feel like it, garnish with finely chopped herbs, crème fraîche or even fresh goat's cheese or curd.

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