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Recipe: Paula’s Nettle Soup

Common Nettle

Common Nettle

Nettles are more than a pile of pain you fell into. Before electricity soared through the countryside and back when banshees were worn out announcing deaths, they were a vital, free source of food. Nettles thrive around old ruins, piles of rubble, ditches, hedgerows, woods, and fens.

From at least early Christian times until about 200 years ago, a broth of water, nettles, salt, milk and oatmeal, known as Brochtan Neanntog, provided nourishment. They can also be used to make a nettle beer, and I’ve even come across a recipe for Nettle jam, made using its flowers.

Over on one of my favourite food blogs, the Daily Spud, Aoife’s made a interesting side dish: Nettles with Ginger and Yogurt. In the same week, our friend Paula White sends on this recipe for Nettle Soup. It’s open to variation and experimentation.

Red Dead Nettle

Red Dead Nettle

Two things to bear in mind. Firstly, unless you’re a masochist, wear gloves when picking nettles and cut with scissors. Second, the best times to collect them is when the shoots are young  – no more than a few centimetres high – and before the month of June. If you gather them later in the year, use just the tops and the young, pale, green leaves. Remove any tough stems before cooking, and wash well.

Paula’s Bealtaine Nettle Soup

Ingredients

  • Loads of fresh nettles, about a pot full. I use the smaller leaves at the top of the plant (less fibrous and sweeter)
  • 3 cups chicken both or vegetable stock.
  • 1 tsp butter
  • Cream. Loads.
  • Garlic, roasted first can be nice.
  • Carrots, potatoes, leeks or turnips – improvisation is required here
  • Salt, pepper, thyme, coriander, etc.

White Dead Nettle

White Dead Nettle

Instructions

  • First thing is to make your stock. Wash the nettle leaves in cold water to remove the bugs or leave them on if you like for the added benefit of protein. Remove any stems or fibrous bits.
  • Boil your nettles until they turn a nice bright green color.
  • Add your garlic and herbs to the pot and blend/puree the mixture.
  • Lightly pan fry the carrots and leeks until soft while boiling the potatoes/turnips/leeks/whatever you fancy in a separate pot.
  • Add the veg to the nettle concoction and puree to make a nice thick soup. If it’s too thick, add more stock until it’s a nice soupy consistency. I like to save some potato chunks and add them in after pureeing.
  • Stir in the butter and add as much cream as you like. Being the gluttonous person that I am, I also like to add grated cheese and croutons.
  • Leave a bowl out for the faeries tonight so they don’t steal your children, blight your potatoes, sicken your livestock and wreck your love life.

One Comment

  1. Begob, I’d better go and make some of that soup for the faeries so that they don’t blight me spuds!