This week I'm bringing you a recipe made from foraged ingredients: nettles! This Nutrient-Rich Nettle Soup is simple to make, seasonal and utterly delicious. (This recipe was first published in March 2017.)
Have you ever picked stinging nettles? It's the time of year (roughly mid-March to early May) when they are ready for foraging. If you've never tried them before, let me tell you why they're so good!
Aside from being one of nature's natural antihistamines (so great for anyone with hayfever or allergies), nettles are rich in iron and many other nutrients. I love making pesto, soups and tea with them as they have a taste similar to spinach.
Also, if you're lucky enough to be able to find them growing in the wild, nettles are a completely free food source! Find them in areas of recently disturbed ground that's low down and close to water. Old farmland is a great place to spot them.
Nutrient-Rich Nettle Soup - The Recipe
This nettle soup is delicious and quick to make. I like to keep the ingredients simple as the nettle really deserves to shine and can easily be overpowered by other flavours. Enjoy it as a light meal served with bread or as an elegant starter.
For tips on picking the nettles themselves, I recommend just snipping off the top few leaves to encourage regrowth and so that you don't end up with large amounts of stalk. And always remember to use gloves! If you get stung it's no big deal as the pain will wear off, but it's not fun being stung repeatedly so protection is important.
Also, picking the nettles when they're young and before they start to flower means they'll have more nutrients in them. Once the flowers come out, avoid picking as the nettles have passed their peak and they won't taste as good.
Nutrient-Rich Nettle Soup (vegan & gluten-free)
- 1 onion, sliced thinly
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1 medium potato, cut into 1½cm cubes
- 1 medium carrot, cut into 2cm cubes
- 3 cups vegetable stock
- 3 packed cups stinging nettles
- Salt & pepper
To serve (optional)
- Garlic olive oil
- ¼ cup toasted walnuts
- Alfalfa sprouts
- Prepare all ingredients as instructed above.
- Place the onion, garlic, potato, carrot and vegetable stock in a large saucepan and bring to the boil.
- Reduce the heat, cover and simmer gently for 5 minutes.
- Add the nettles and simmer for a further 5-10 minutes until the potatoes are tender and nettles are wilted.
- Remove from the heat, allow to cool slightly and pour the soup mixture into a blender.
- Blend on high for 20 seconds until the soup is almost smooth, then return it to the saucepan.
- Heat gently and season if required with salt and pepper.
- When the soup is heated through, divide between two bowls and garnish with sprouts, toasted walnuts and garlic olive oil if desired.