Nettle soup? I hear you say…
Yes, I say. It’s actually delicious and very good for you. It’s also easy to make and a great way to do something with nettles if you have them in your garden.
We look at nettles as a weed, and a pest, and something that can cause harm when we get too close and they sting us, but they actually contain a lot of nutrients and if you cook them, can be made into a delicious, healthy and gorgeous green soup.
- itamins: Vitamins A, C and K, as well as several B vitamins
- Minerals: Calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and sodium
- Fats: Linoleic acid, linolenic acid, palmitic acid, stearic acid and oleic acid
- Amino acids: All of the essential amino acids
- Polyphenols: Kaempferol, quercetin, caffeic acid, coumarins and other flavonoids
- Pigments: Beta-carotene, lutein, luteoxanthin and other carotenoids
And they are not that hard to deal with to remove their sting to make them edible either. I firt had nettle soup as a child, staying with a friend from school who’s mum at the time was considered a bit of a hippy and remmeber being shocked and suprised you could eat anything linked to nettles, but I have also eaten it in restaurants as well and the poor maligned netttle actually can be used for good.
Because I am not a fancy or creative gardener, and prefer to just cover the basics of tidy and practical, and admire other peoples much more manicured gardens instead, we do have a patch of nettles in our back garden. I let them grow because I am a fan of the wildlife they attract and I don’t use weedkillers in our garden (again, harmfull to wildlife) but occasionally they get a bit over grown so I cut them back and sometimes I make soup with them.
“But Nettles sting!” You say.
Yes, they do, so you need to blanche them first. See below. I primise you can eat them and you won’t end up with a stung throat and mouth.
For soup for 4 people you need about what I would describe is about a bucket of youngish nettle heads. Put gloves on and pick the top and greenest parts of younger plants. Make sure you give them a thorough rinse to remove any bugs or insects. You don’t need to chop or do anything to them before you blanche them. Nettles have a slightly stronger taste than spinach but taste similar and this soup is like a more concentrated form of spinach, I think. It’s refreshing and healthy. You can serve this cold too if you like.
This recipe uses garlic, and in fact, I use ramson or wild garlic from my garden too, but normal garlic works fine as well.
- 1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 carrot, diced
- 3 cloves of garlic finely chopped or a handful of ramson plants finely chopped
- 1 large floury potato (Maris Piper or similar), thinly sliced
- 1l vegetable stock
- 400g stinging or Dead nettles, washed, leaves picked (see tips below)
- 50ml double cream or vegan cream if you prefer and are dairy free.
To blanche and make the nettles safe – Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Prepare a large bowl of ice water. Wearing protective gloves, transfer the nettle tops into the boiling water. Blanch for 2 minutes.
Use tongs to lift the wilted blanched nettles out of the pot and transfer to the bowl of ice water to shock them. Strain in a colander.
To make the soup:
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat.
- Add the onion, carrot, garlic or ramson plants and potato, and cook for 10 mins until the vegetables start to soften.
- Add the stock and cook for a further 10-15 mins until the potato is soft.
- Add the nettle leaves, simmer for 1 min to wilt,
- then blend the soup. Season to taste, with salt and pepper.
- Then stir in your cream.
- Serve the soup drizzled with extra oil and with some warm crusty bread.
Surprise people, and try it. I promise nettle soup is not as scary as it sounds.