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 sting...it's a sure sign that you've got the right plant! And the worse bit about collecting nettles is the sting...it 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
- Wash the nettle well. Cook in a saucepan with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil until softened.
- Remove from the pan, draining the oil and leaving it for the other vegetables. Chop the nettles and reserve for later.
- Put the sliced leek into the saucepan (adding more olive oil if necessary) and soften.
- Add the broccoli, potatoes and carrots and saute for a few minutes.
- Add the turmeric and cook for a couple of minutes.
- Return the nettles.
- Season and combine all ingredients.
- 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.
- Check the seasoning and adjust if necessary.
- 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