June has been an extraordinary month in Aberdeen. We have been living in an almost permanent gloom – overcast, foggy, drizzly, dreich and occasionally torrential. When the cloud base rises above the rooftops it counts as a good day. We read of drought on the west coast – whisky distilleries having to suspend production for lack of water – and grit our teeth. That’s not the deal: they get the scenery and we get the drier weather.
All this dampness is not without its consequences in the forest garden. Anything that needs sun to bring it on is looking bereft and the snails are having a field day. It’s also creating an unexpected glut of yellow day lily (Hemerocallis lilioasphodelus) flowers. Usually any unused flowers dry on the plant and can be gathered for later use.
In this Month of Gloom, however, nothing is drying whatsoever, so we’re having to use the day lilies as they are produced. The result is that we’re eating lots of miso soup: partly no doubt because it’s salty comfort food but mostly because it’s a great way to use the flowers. Here’s the recipe from last night’s soup, which in no way needs to be followed exactly. In general, day lily flowers will also add flavour, colour and thickness to any soup you like.
- Oil for frying
- 2 small onions, finely chopped
- 1 garlic scape (immature flowering stem), finely chopped
- 1 potato, chopped
- 1 piece celeriac, chopped
- 2 fresh shiitake mushrooms, chopped
- 200g yellow day lily flowers, chopped
- 1 litre stock
- 1 handful dulse (seaweed)
- 3 heads sweet cicely seeds
- 3 courgette flowers
- 2 very generous teaspoonfuls of miso
Fry the onion in a pan for a couple of minutes, then add the garlic and fry until soft. Throw in the potato, celeriac and mushrooms and fry a little more, stirring occasionally. Add the lily flowers and fry until wilted. The add the stock and dulse and simmer for about 10 minutes. Use whatever stock you may have left over from other dishes but it’s important not to use a salty stock or stock cube as there is more than enough salt in the miso. Water will do fine as a substitute. Near the end add the sweet cicely seeds and courgette flowers. Once the soup it is cooked, remove the pan from the heat. Put the miso in a cup and stir it to a liquid with some cold water, then stir the lot into the soup. Serve as soon as possible.
This recipe can also be made with larger day lily flowers (Hemerocallis fulva), in which case it is a good idea to chop them roughly before adding. They wilt but don’t disintegrate, which can make for very messy eating when they’re in a soup!