Cleavers and Red Pepper Soup

Cleavers & Capsicum Soup

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes


Serving Size: 320 ml

Cleavers & Capsicum Soup


  • 100 g bundle of cleavers tops Galium aparine
  • 2 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
  • 2 medium size onions (finely chopped)
  • 2 red peppers (long organic Romano are tastiest)
  • 1 red chilli pepper (finely chopped)
  • 1 x 400g can organic plum tomatoes
  • 50ml elderberry pontack (or Worcestershire sauce)
  • 1/2 tsp hot pepper sauce (Encona or Tabasco)
  • 1 tbsp toasted seaweed (nori or dulse)
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp good quality olive oil
  • 1.5 litres hot water


  1. Rinse the bundle of cleavers and trim off the roots. If you have picked it carefully, you'll have all the roots end to end and can cut them all off with one pass of the scissors. If not, it may take you a while!
  2. Heat a little olive oil in a saucepan and add the chopped garlic and onions. Sweat for 5 minutes until starting to soften.
  3. Add the roughly chopped red peppers and stir. Hold the bunch of cleavers over the pan and using scissors, cut them into the pan in 1-2 cm lengths. This prevents the stems wrapping themselves around your stick blender later on! Cook for a further 5 minutes.
  4. Add 1.5 litres of hot water and all the seasonings. Simmer for 15 minutes until the peppers are tender.
  5. Take off the heat and cool. Adjust the seasoning.
  6. When cool, use a stick blender to fully liquidise the soup. Or pour into a blender, liquidise and then return to the pan.
  7. Reheat and serve. Finely chop some wild garlic or chives as a garnish.


This is a low-fat soup and does not contain potatoes or flour to thicken it. For a special treat you might like to add a little creme fraiche or crumbled feta cheese but it's delicious without it!

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Cleavers, also known as clivers, goosegrass or sticky willies, is a great diet food. John Gerard, a 16th century herbalist, quotes Pliny saying ‘A pottage made of Cleavers is good to cause lankness and keepe from fatnesse.’ It is diuretic and particularly good for the lymphatic system. It is also a really good blood purifier, used by herbalists to clear up skin problems.

The tips of the plant are tender in the Spring – they can be added to salads at this stage – but their quickly lose their palatability due to the rough texture (like sandpaper) that develops. This is a shame because it is a really healthy plant to eat. I often juice it in my wheatgrass juicer and it tastes fantastic added to pear and ginger. But I also love it in soups, especially when trying to lose a few winter pounds in the Spring.


Cleavers just at the picking stage.

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