A surprise from nature
Are you a fan or alarmed by the notion of Nettle Soup?
If you are of the latter persuasion, think of it more like leek and potato soup, except it overflows with nettley goodness. Chock full of goodies like Calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, plus vitamins A, C, K plus Folates and B complex – nettles are nature’s tonic.
If like me, you are a gardener who has been pained many times by tiny nettles when weeding, or as a walker who likes shorts in the summer, it also tastes of sweet revenge.
The best time to crop is in spring when they are at their newest and freshest because later in the year they are tougher and can develop quite a “Green” flavour. I once made a quite horrific nettle soup in late May because of not understanding this.
For more information on things to cook, eat and do in February, visit the February page.
- Nettles – tops or young leaves. Half a largish carrier bag / half a bucket
- 40g butter or oil
- Large onion, chopped.
- 2 cloves Garlic (or wild garlic if available).
- 1 carrot. Cleaned and chopped.
- 1 large or 2 small potatoes. Cleaned and chopped, cubes or slices. No need to peel, just remove any bits you don’t trust.
- 1 litre Stock (Veg or chicken the best, fish will work. Not Beef).
- Milk (whole is best)
- Gloves! (Even good kitchen gloves will do)
- Bag / Bucket
- Stick Blender
Get outside and collect some nettles! If equipped with gloves, all the family can join in.
The younger a fresher the leavers, the better because as they get older they get tougher and more fibrous. I tend to avoid those near the edge of paths (think what dogs do) and those close to busy roads, as I’m sure they might not be so good for you. Snip off the leaves, or take the tops, you don’t want any stalk. It’s up to you how many you take, it depends on the size of your pan.
When you get home, sift out any bits and bobs you don’t want.
Wash. You can soak them for a little while in Brine water (just throw some salt in the water) because this will help extract any wildlife you may not want to include. Rinse.
- Heat oil/butter in a pan on medium heat. Add onion and cook for 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic (unless wild) carrots and potatoes, and cook for another few minutes.
- Add the stock heat until bubbling, turn down to simmer for 10 minutes or a little longer if the carrot or potato is still hard. You want the carrot and potato almost cooked before adding the nettles.
- Add the nettles, and cook for 5 minutes. Add the wild garlic now if using instead of cloves.
- Blend. A stick blender is the best, however, you can do it in batches in a liquidiser or food processor with the blade attachment. (see note below).
- Add some milk. Often recipes specify cream or creme fraiche, but if you have not got that, or are watching the calories, milk does very well. If you are aiming for Vegan add a suitable substitute – I believe a bit of creamed coconut works quite well and gives it an exotic undertone.
- Salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve as a starter, or with crusty wholemeal bread as a wholesome lunch
If you do not possess a blender, do not panic because can make a slightly more rustic version. Before adding the nettles use a potato masher to mush up the potato and carrot. You will not get this fine, and the onion may resist, but you will reduce the size and improve the texture. I would even suggest putting in a bit more potato in at the start because this will help thicken the soup. Chop the nettles as finely as possible before adding to the soup mixture. This is probably more authentic as a traditional spring filler.