Posted by: sweetpea | April 12, 2007

Nettle Soup

I have known for some time that nettles are edible, and in fact very nutritious, but somehow the thought of putting something in my mouth that normally stings hasn’t been that appealing.  But my curiosity got the better of me at the weekend, and I decided to have a go at making some soup from a recipe I’d printed off some time ago off the River Cottage website.   It was so tasty, and it doesn’t sting at all (I have to confess to being a little nervous taking my first spoonful), quite nutty in flavour I’d say.  I’m a convert and will be trying the leaves in a stir-fry next I think, and I’ll also try making nettle tea.  The nettle patch at the lottie will now be saved from the proposed removal, tidied up a little as there are a few brambles there too, and designated a crop status 🙂

 NETTLE SOUP   (taken from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstal’s River Cottage website)

Ingredients

½ carrier bag full of nettles, tops or young leaves
55g butter
1 large or 2 medium onions, finely sliced
1 large carrot, chopped (optional)
2 celery sticks, chopped (optional)
1 large garlic clove, crushed (optional)
1 litre good chicken, fish or vegetable stock
a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
3 tablespoons cooked rice or 3 rice cakes
2 tablespoons thick cream or crème fraiche
salt and freshly ground black pepper

To Garnish:
A little extra cream or crème fraiche
A small bunch of chives, chopped
A few sprigs of wild chervil or parsley, chopped

Method

Pick over the nettles and wash them thoroughly. Discard only the tougher stalks, as the soup will be liquidised. Melt the butter in a large pan and sweat the onion, plus the carrot, celery and garlic if using, until soft but not brown. Add the stock and pile in the nettles. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5-10 minutes, until the nettles are tender. Season with salt and pepper, and with nutmeg if you wish. Puree the soup in a liquidiser with the cooked rice or rice cakes (you will probably have to do this in 2 batches). Return to a clean pan, stir in the cream and reheat, but do not let it boil. Check the seasoning, then serve, garnishing each bowl with a swirl of cream and a generous sprinkling of chopped herbs.

To serve cold:
An alternative is to serve this soup cold. After liquidising and adding the cream, pour the soup into a bowl and leave to cool, then transfer to the fridge for a couple of hours before serving. For accelerated cooling, fill a large basin or saucepan with ice cubes and water and place the bowl of soup in the iced water. Stir to chill, adding more ice cubes if the first batch melts. Stir well just before serving and ladle the soup out into bowls. Garnish each with a swirl of cream and a sprinkling of chopped chives and wild chervil.

Serves 6

Additional notes:
This is the basic recipe for nettle and other ‘wild greens’ soups, including fat hen and chickweed. It will also freeze extremely well. For a variation mix the nettle leaves with watercress or Cos lettuce. The carrot and celery are optional but make the soup more robust and full-flavoured. You can also add a few fresh or frozen peas, to give sweetness and improve the texture. Using fish stock will give a more unusual taste. If using a stock cube the best ones are monosodium glutamate free. If you prefer you can use a medium potato to thicken the soup instead of the cooked rice (or cakes) – peel and dice it fairly small and add it just before adding the stock.

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Responses

  1. Hi – I’ve just discovered your blog after doing a google search for “york allotments”. I’m looking into getting an allotment in York and it’s been great reading your posts and reading how your plot has developed 😀

    Rach

  2. Thanks Rach, glad you’ve enjoyed reading. Hope you manage to find a plot, I know there are some waiting lists, but hopefully there will be one somewhere you can take on as it’s so fantastic having an allotment 🙂

  3. […] are numerous recipes out there for nettle soup, one of which I blogged about here.  Recently I tried yet another recipe by Mr Fearnly-Whittingstall which included smoked fish, and […]


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