If you go down to the woods today…
I shan’t go into the entire song but it sure was in my head on Wednesday when i went a- foraging. I have a specific patch that i know for sure always has an abundance of Wild Nettles. Imagine my disappointment when i got there and saw nowt but dried overgrowth. Yet, the sun was shining, the gardeners were busying away in their allotments, the birds were singing beautiful melodies and i felt inspired to persevere. After 10 minutes of clearing thickets, pushing thorny branches aside, detangling myself from all manner of thistley friends- i found the jackpot. Quietly hidden away, safe from animals and a sun which still has fierce heat when sheltered from the Spring winds- heaps of beautiful, emerald Nettles.
!5 minutes later i had a perfect bag goodies, thanking nature for her beautiful gift, i walked home along the river, excited by the prospect of that nights supper. A supper that was definitely a labour of love- for although i hadn’t been stung thus far (i use my scissors to transport nettle from patch to bag) i knew all too well that i would have to incur my fair share when preparing the soup i was to make.
So back home, with a very brave left hand- i picked up each stem and trimmed leaf from stalk. I like to soak my nettles in plenty of fresh water for about 15/ 20 minutes to remove any trace impurities that they may have picked up. Then it was simply a case of making a quick soup base: onion, leek, celery, bringing the stock to a boil and in go the nettles. I added a bunch a wild garlic i had left over from the weekend but it didn’t really take too much away from the flavour so i won’t add it to the ingredients below.
A little note on why Wild Nettles are so good for you, both culinary (they’re utterly delicious) and nutritionally: Nettle contains prostaglandins which have properties that support resistance to inflammation. Nettle leaf also contains high levels of protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, and beta-carotene and high amounts of the vitamins A, C, D, and B complex*. All this from an almost free Supper? Count me in!
Oh yes, and with the discarded Nettle stalks i made a balm to soothe inflamed muscles. I quickly boiled them in fresh water with a few sprigs of dried rosemary and some dried coconut flesh. After straining the liquid i stirred in a little cacao butter and left to set.
Wild Nettle Soup:
(Serves 4, Vegan, Gluten- free, Nut- free, Wild)
- 1 Medium Onion
- 2 Stalks of Celery
- 1/3 Leek
- 1 large Potato
- 500ml Boiled Water
- 1 bag of Nettle leaves
- 1 tablespoon of Stock (Bouillon if you can)
- 1 teaspoon of freshly ground Peppercorns
- 1/4 teaspoon of Sea Salt
- 1 tablespoon of Oil
- Heat the oil in a soup pan on a medium heat
- Roughly chop the onion, leek, celery and potato, add to pan and cook for 5 minutes
- Add the water, stock and seasoning and bring to the boil
- Add the nettles and reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, cook for 10-15 minutes, until the potato has just softened
- Remove from the heat and blend with an immersion blender