Friday, 4 May 2012

Nettle Soup

I get such a kick out of food foraging and we're really lucky to have a wood at the end of the garden with rich pickings.  If I'm not sure whether things are edible I use my copy of The Thrifty Forager by lovely Alys Fowler to help me out.

The best bit about collecting nettles is the's a sure sign that you've got the right plant!  And the worse bit about collecting nettles is the hurts for ages!  I do advise wearing gloves!  

Now is the time to find them at their best.  A quick forage provided enough to make a simple soup for lunch whilst I was working on a couple of projects at home including my first attempt at mushroom spore printing...

I collected a basketful but only used the top leaves and discarded the lower ones and the stalks.  Apparently they may not be so good for you when they are collected later in the year as they begin to collect gritty particles in the leaves.  The rest of the time they are reputed to have loads of health giving properties according to Jean Palaiseul's Grandmother's Secrets.

Stinging Nettle Soup


  • Just over half a litre of nettle leaves (about a pint)
  • 200g of potatoes 
  • 200g of broccoli (we had the florets with a roast dinner yesterday...I always reserve the stalks for soup.  They add great flavour and bulk)
  • One leek, sliced finely
  • One small carrot also finely sliced
  • One lime/lemon
  • A clove of garlic
  • A little turmeric
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt and crushed black pepper


  1. Wash the nettle well.  Cook in a saucepan with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil until softened.
  2. Remove from the pan, draining the oil and leaving it for the other vegetables.  Chop the nettles and reserve for later.
  3. Put the sliced leek into the saucepan (adding more olive oil if necessary) and soften.
  4. Add the broccoli, potatoes and carrots and saute for a few minutes.
  5. Add the turmeric and cook for a couple of minutes.
  6. Return the nettles.
  7. Season and combine all ingredients.
  8. Add a litre of hot water and a bay leaf.  Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer.  Add the juice of the lime and cook until the vegetables are tender.
  9. Check the seasoning and adjust if necessary.
  10. Remove from the heat and blend, remembering to remove the bay leaf.

This is my new favourite way to eat nettles.  Nettle risotto is delicious as is nettle and chick pea tagine but there is something so comforting and velvety about  this  soup. Some people like to serve with yoghurt or cream but it doesn't need it...a  really flavourful satisfying soup...definitely one to make again and again...

I'm linking to the REAL FOOD FORAGER here 


  1. That is a great sounding sound. Living in a desert, nettles are non-existent. I wonder if I can find them while we are temporarily in the eastern U.S. I used them while pregnant for their medicinal qualities.

  2. Apparently they are good for so many ailments including hay fever which I suffer from at this time of year so I think I'll be making lots of soup!

    I hope you manage to find some Heather.

    Have a good weekend,

  3. I think I'm incredibly lucky because I can just get them at the farmer's market at the salad stall heh. But i think part of the joy in eating this is probably the foraging for it too. I really want to give foraging a go myself, it sounds like so much fun, being in tune with nature, AND getting free food at the same time, but I'm not confident about identifyng and recognising them. Maybe I need to get that book by alys fowler and end it with all the excuses.

    Also super liek your grandmother's secrets book. I grew up on herbal remedies, though the asian grandmother has a quite different repertoire of herbs. I'm working on a pop-up shop project for school now, creating a collection of granny wisdoms actually, so this really is quite a good find!

  4. Oh that's convenient Shu Han but as you say you do get a buzz from foraging.

    I'm the same as you some things I'm quite confident at spotting others I have to check. The Thrifty Forager is a great help in identifying plants and berries that are edible and tells you the kind of places to look for in the city.

    The pop-up shop project sounds amazing I hope it goes well and that you keep us informed/

    Have a good weekend.

  5. Love nettle soup, which is perhaps just as well as we've been living off it for the last month ;-)

    1. This was my first time Choclette but I'm sure like you we'll be too. It seems that I've been a little bit slow getting started this year...I'm sure I've mist all the best little nettles.

  6. Ahh yes! I've not tried nettle soup before but I really should. It sounds divine. I too have Alys' book and I love it. The Viking and I are determined to live more off the land this year. I just picked a huge bunch of wild garlic yesterday which gives me such joy!

    1. Give it a go is divine...

      I haven't seen wild garlic growing around here but I'm sure there must be some...I need to be a little bit more adventurous with my foraging in future.

  7. I have my husband out in fields right now looking for nettle and then I came across your post...perfect timing! Thanks for a great looking recipe.

    1. You're welcome Tracey. What a coincidence...I hope he manage to find plenty.

  8. Hi Deb,
    Your nettle soup sounds so very healthy - I have never cooked with nettles myself. This is most likely a silly question - but what happens to the nettles when you cook them? Do they soften and become non-stingy?

    1. Hi Rel.

      No it's not a silly question. They lose all their sting as soon as they are cooked and become a bit like cooked spinach. Some people even eat them raw...but I wouldn't try!

      I've been a little bit more adventuous this weekend and steamed Goosegrass to accompany a roast dinner. They are also known as sticky willie,cleavers and scratch tongue...they are those weeds that stick to your clothing like velcro and are fun to put on someone's back when they aren't looking! I used my trusty 'Thrifty Forager' guide to make sure they were edible and we're still here today so they must have been ok!

  9. Wow you are becoming adventurous! I am completely uneducated in Australian bushfoods...we could all learn a lot from our indigenous brothers and sisters.

  10. That sounds like fun. I'd really like try foraging for wild mushrooms but that does scare me! I love that in France you can take your mushroom collection along to the pharmacist and they will check to ensure there's nothing deadly in amongst them...that would be cool.