Green wild garlic and Puy lentil soup

By Anna Jones

In wild garlic season, I pick loads and make it into this pesto.

Photography by Ana Cuba

In wild garlic season, I pick loads and make it into this pesto (no extra garlic added), which can be kept under a slick of olive oil in the fridge for weeks or in the freezer for much longer. Wild garlic has a strong taste when it’s raw but that mellows when you cook it. If you can’t get your hands on it, a finely chopped clove of garlic and some spinach will stand in; there is no need to soak the garlic or spinach.

  • Serves: 4


  • 200g dried Puy lentils
  • good olive oil
  • 1 banana shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 bulb of fennel, finely chopped
  • 2 sticks of celery, finely chopped
  • 50g swede, parsnip orc arrot, finely chopped
  • 50g hazelnuts
  • 1 unwaxed lemon
  • a good bunch of wild garlic (about 50g)
  • a bunch of young spinach or a bunch of young spinach or other greens (about 50g)


  1. First soak the lentils in boiling water for 10 minutes; this will help speed up the cooking time and make them softer. Drain the lentils and put them into a large deep saucepan with 750ml of cold water and simmer until they are cooked and soft but not falling apart - this should take between 20 and 25 minutes.
  2. Put another pan over a medium heat, add a little oil and then the shallot, fennel, celery and your root vegetable. Add a good pinch of salt, then cook for 10 minutes, until soft and sweet.
  3. Meanwhile, toast the hazelnuts in a dry pan until golden brown. Once they are nicely toasted, take off the heat. Grate in the lemon zest and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, then put the pan back on the heat for a minute or so until you hear a sizzle. Transfer the lot to a bowl to cool. Once cool, roughly chop.
  4. Fill and boil the kettle. Once the vegetables and the lentils are both cooked, stir the vegetables into the lentils and add 500ml of hot water from the kettle. Leave to simmer on a very low heat.
  5. Put the wild garlic into a bowl, cover with boiling water and leave for a minute, then scoop out with a slotted spoon. Squeeze out any excess water, then put into a food processor with a tablespoon of oil and enough cold water (about 2 tablespoons) to puree it.
  6. Stir the spinach and wild garlic puree through the soup. Serve with the lemon hazelnuts, a little more olive oil, and garlic flowers if you have them.

Anna Jones is a cook, stylist and writer.

One grey, late-for-work day, she decided to quit her office job after reading an article about following your passion by which bit of the newspaper you read first.

Within days, she had a place on the training programme at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen in London. After earning her stripes there, she went to chef at Le Caprice in London and also cooked in Spain and the Chianti fields of Tuscany. She then returned to the Jamie Oliver family to work as his food stylist, writer and food creative on books, TV shows and food campaigns. During that time, she cooked in all sorts of places, from East End school kitchens and Sydney beaches to American Indian reservations. She helped shape up the fattest town in America, led cooking classes at the TED talks and cooked for rock stars, royalty and the G20 at Downing Street.

After seven incredible years at Jamie Oliver, Anna now works independently as a stylist and food writer in London. She has worked with some of the best-loved cooks and chefs of our time, from Antonio Carluccio to Yotam Ottolenghi, Sophie Dahl to the Fabulous Baker Brothers. She has also worked with some of the country’s biggest food brands, including Daylesford, Leon and innocent drinks, for whom she wrote the book Hungry?

Anna believes that vegetables should be put at the centre of every table, and is devoted to helping people make a long-term commitment to eating well and feeling amazing. She is led by the joy of food – the spritz of freshness when you peel an orange or the crackle and waft of deep savoury spice when you add curry leaves to a pan of hot oil – and thinks that healthy eating is as much about pleasure as anything else.

Anna writes regular columns for The Guardian Cook and The Pool. She lives, writes and cooks in Hackney, East London. For examples of her styling work, please click here.