I’ve got a big heap of Stinging Nettles in the sink waiting for me to make my move. They sit there glowering at me, covered in wicked piercing hairs filled with sting-juice. Not to fear! I’ve stolen my wife’s hot pink dish gloves (sexy!), a strainer to catch any bugs ‘n bits left curled in the stems and big pot for boiling all the fight out of these ornery weeds. Let’s make some soup!
This is a riff on a recipe I found in (of all places) a Tricycle Magazine article from way back. The author explained the beautiful simplicity and austerity of nettle soup in a way that really stuck with me. It’s a really honest, peasant-style soup that invigorates and soothes at the same time. The perfect thing to feed my foraging family during the early spring flu season… Seriously, is everyone in this house sick but me?
I’ve added the extra step of straining the nettle broth mainly because this is my first time cooking these things, and I’m still dubious they’ll truly lose their sting. I mean, they’re dangerous one minute, and then edible the next?
“It’ll be fine, I cook them for 10 minutes at least,” counseled Toni, my good friend and fellow forager, “and save the liquid, it tastes really nice and green and is packed with good stuff.”
Good advice! This soup turned out amazing, with more big-bodied savouriness than I ever imagined a pile of weeds could be packing. Full of protein, Iron and Vitamin A, these nettles seriously nourish, and you won’t be found wanting if you skip the chicken stock in favour of a vegetarian version.
Oh, one last thing… You might want to invite your friends and relatives to taste your “Nettle Soup”, and leave the “Stinging” part out of the title. Avoiding that word makes all the difference in stimulating guest’s appetites.
(Don’t Say “Stinging”) Nettle Soup (Serves 4-6)
- 1 Heaping Pile of Nettles (310g)
- 2L Vegetable or Chicken Stock (or 2.1 qrts.)
- 15ml Olive Oil (that’s 1 tbls.)
- 100g White Onion (or 3.5 oz. chopped)
- 60g Celery (or 2.1 oz. chopped)
- 60g Fennel (or 2.1 oz. chopped)
- 3 Garlic Cloves (13g, minced)
- 300g Potato (somewhere around 2 cups, peeled and chopped)
Method (You’re going to want some gloves for the initial cleaning, and a super-handy emulsion blender for later on.)
- Soak the nettles in a large bowl full of water for 10 mins. Put on your gloves and give it a stir to release any little bugs or bits of grit hiding inside ‘em, and strain the liquid out. Watch your wrists! Just a nudge is going to cost you some serious pain and a sack full of dollars in the swear jar.
- Heat up the stock in a large pot and once boiling, turn down the heat slightly to a low simmer. Dump in the raw nettles and simmer them for ten minutes. Watch transfixed as a seemingly dangerous clutch of flora melts into a harmless and delicious meal. Strain the liquid from the pot through a piece of cheesecloth, or a coffee strainer, or just a nice fine strainer into a container and set aside. Scoop out the cooked nettles and set them aside as well.
- Wash out the pot, pour in the olive oil and return it to a medium heat. Add the onions, celery and fennel to the hot oil and cook them for 4 minutes, stirring them whenever the thought strikes you. After they’ve become translucent and soft, toss in the garlic and cook another minute. Pour in the nettle stock (Wussssh!) and increase the heat to bring it all up to a simmer. Add the potatoes and, slap a lid on and cook the whole deal for another 10 minutes.
- Have a peek under the lid and check a piece of potato – If it squishes apart easily, you are ready to add the cooked nettles. Stir them in and remove the pot from the heat. Fire up your immersion blender (or carefully pour batches into your upright-blender… but seriously, go get an immersion blender!) and puree the soup to your desired consistency. If you’re in a fancy mood – make it silky-smooth, if you’re feeling a tad rustic – leave some lumps. Garnish with a dollop of heavy cream and maybe some chopped chives.
Oh yeah, in case anyone was wondering… I did not get stung a single time! No rash, no nothing! I’m just as surprised as you are.
Music To Cook This To :
Tycho – Past Is Prologue