I should have really posted this in early Spring when the nettles first made an appearance and are at their best – young, sweet and tender. I think we’ve just about got away with it as many have already started to flower, which is when it really is too late. Tom is convinced however that he managed to find some in their second crop, which is the next best thing.
We love making nettle soup, not just because it tastes so earthy and wholesome, but because it makes us feel like proper foragers. This week’s nettle soup was a genuine foraging exercise driven by necessity – I was a bit slap-dash with the food shop this week and all we had worth eating were some old carrots and leeks. Now, weeds cooked up with near-rotting veg probably doesn’t sound particularly appetising so, apart from the sheer satisfaction of finding dinner in a nearby field, here are some more good reasons to eat nettle soup.
- Nettles are basically nature’s super food – high in iron, potassium, vitamin and A. You can almost taste the goodness
- Free, damn it
- It’s extremely satisfying wreaking revenge on something that stings you by eating it
- Tastes like planet earth. You expect it to taste like spinach but it’s almost like a cross between earthy beetroot and freshly-mown grass. Don’t let that put you off.
I cooked this in our new pressure cooker (a lot more on that later) and it took no time. Instructions for both ways of cooking below but first a few words on picking nettles. Wear gloves and long shirt-sleeves (washing up gloves are fine). Go for the smaller, younger looking leaves at the tops of the plants. To save time, you can pinch the stalk and simply run your hand up to strip the top of the plant.
Next on the list, nettle beer. Watch this space…
- 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
- 2 leeks, roughly chopped
- 2 carrots, roughly chopped
- 1 potato, chopped
- A generous pint of home-made chicken stock or vege stock
- About 4 large handfuls of nettles (give them a good wash first)
- Saute onion then carrots and leeks til soft.
- Add the potatoes and stock and bring to a simmer. Add the nettles.
- If using a pressure cooker, pop the lid on, bring up to pressure and cook for 10 minutes. If not, bring to the boil then simmer with the lid off until all the veggies are soft. If using a pressure cooker, remove from the heat and let the pressure come down naturally before removing lid.
- Blend with a hand blender.
- Serve in bowls and then season with freshly ground nutmeg, salt and pepper and, once I add a good glug or two of cream to your liking. We used parsley but seasoned with chives would be even better. Our chives are looking a bit sorry for themselves so leaving them be for a bit.