JOANNA'S FOOD: family cooking, from scratch, every day


Thursday, March 15, 2007

Nettle soup


















I've got a cold this week, so need something to build me up. Nettles (urtica dioica) fit the bill perfectly, as they are full of iron, and, I think, vitamin C. As so-called hedgerow food, they have the added advantage of giving you something for nothing. But in this garden they grow in huge profusion, great clumps of them. They're only just beginning to show now, which is perfect, because you need young shoots if you're going to eat them (they get very stringy indeed, and mature plants can be made into clothes, just like hemp).











It's hard to believe that this clump of three-inch high nettles will be four feet tall by midsummer.










Even nettles this small carry quite a sting, so you need to wear gloves: finding them is probably the most difficult bit of making this soup.

Quick nettle soup


For two, you'll need half a colander full, one potato, one onion, some stock or water, and nutmeg.

Chop the onion, and sweat in a little oil. When they're soft but not golden, add potato chunks, stir round for a few moments, then add the nettles. The leaves will fill your pan pretty full, but, like spinach, they wilt right down, so when you add liquid, don't put in too much, there's no need to cover the leaves. Bring to the boil, put on the lid, and simmer gently for 10 to 15 minutes. Liquidize, & season with lots of nutmeg. Reheat, and serve with a swirl of fromage frais.



This is my entry for weekend herb blogging, hosted this week by Becky at Key Lime and Coconut

16 comments:

ros said...

Sometimes I wish I lived somewhere where I could go and pick nettles and other things to cook.

Are the stinging bits of the nettles only on the stalks? It's probably a stupid question but I saw a raw mettle leaf garnish on some sushi the other day and I wondered why it wouldn't sting.

Joanna said...

The ones in my garden sting from every part - but there is a non-stinging ornamental nettle called dead nettle which looks exactly the same, only with very small white flowers like little hoods on the stalk - perhaps that was it?

Joanna

Kalyn said...

Very interesting. I haven't seen or tasted nettles. Wish I could try them.

Helene said...

That´s an interesting idea. I used nettle tea to get rid of surplus water in the body, or in the garden to get rid of insects. So I´ll go out for a nearly free soup. :)

sher said...

I've always heard of using nettles in soup or tea, but never tried them. I lived part of my childhood in an area where nettles were quite common. I stepped on them (and I was often barefoot) a lot, and it was painful. The soup looks marvelous! Thanks for letting us know about a pain free way of knowing nettles! :):)

sher said...

I've always heard of using nettles in soup or tea, but never tried them. I lived part of my childhood in an area where nettles were quite common. I stepped on them (and I was often barefoot) a lot, and it was painful. The soup looks marvelous! Thanks for letting us know about a pain free way of knowing nettles! :):)

Joanna said...

I've never tried nettle tea. This summer, I'm going to make some plant feed out of them ... you fill a bucket with nettles, add as much water as you can, and leave it for a couple of weeks. You need to put it somewhere well away from the house, because it STINKS. Then you dilute it before using it to feed your plants. Organic, cheap

I used to step on nettles as a child, too, and then we used to look for dock leaves, and rub the stings with those. It really relieves the pain - and, amazingly, docks are always growing near nettles.

Katie said...

It looks lovely and I've heard it's delicious but I can't bring myself to eat something that stings so badly.
But with a garen full of nettles I think I'll give it a try.
After all, it's practically free and I can always get mon mari to take the first taste.

Anonymous said...

Apparently if you dry the nettles out and smoke them, they prevent hair loss.

.... Can't imagine it'd be good for your lungs though!

Karin said...

My mother used to pick nettles and make a soup every spring. A tradition. Somehow I´ve lost the recipe. I´ll try to find it again because I liked the nettle soup. Where I live they grow everywhere. Not just now though. Snow, you know.

Joanna said...

Katie, there's really no need to worry, once you've cooked them, the nettles don't sting ... and it's VERY satisfying eating something which is such a nuisance in the garden and which is also so delicious (as well as good for you!)

Donna said...

Hi just tried making own nettletea it was great. I did add a slice of lemon to it as well though. Anyway was cheaper than holland and barrett!!!! next onto the soup.

Angelina said...

This is a timely post as I have got a bag full of nettles I picked with a friend of mine. I have never picked or used them before but am very excited! I want to both dry some and make soup. I think I have enough.

I love that so many people have nettle soup recipes!

Yakima_Gulag said...

I live in Sarajevo, and the way to get nettles here is buy them from ladies who live in villages around the city. They sell a whole plastic shopping bag full for 1KM which is about like a dollar. Anyway they are used a lot in traditional medicine here. In Ireland some people ate them during the Famine. they would simply boil them and eat them, no nutmeg or onions or of course potatoes. Stinging nettles have a lot of iron, vitamin K, and C and some other good stuff. The nettles here have tiny stingers all over them.

Lynn said...

I had never thought of nettles as potential food until I had them in soup in a B&B in Wales and it was GORGEOUS! I have meaning to make some for a year now. You're right about finding the gloves probably being the hardest part. I've just picked a bagful of nettles with plastic bags over my hands fastened with rubber bands- worked a treat! We can never find anything in our house!! The recipe sounds simple and delicous, Thank you. I shall cook it tonight for my parents- my Dad had a heart attack a few months ago and convincing my parents to eat healthily is no easy job.We are all cheese fiends!

Joanna said...

Lynn that is BRILLIANT

Changing any habit of a lifetime is difficult ... especially eating cheese. I think probably the best thing is to think of the size - no more than a matchbox-sized piece a day, and take it from there. I have found that I am reasonably happy to eat better cheese less often .. and I have got lots of little cooking tricks now so that I don't have to waste the precious allowance in cooked food :)

Good luck
Joanna