More foraging antics here from good friends of the Beach House Kitchen, Dan and Ruth. They have kindly sent across this recipe for their tasty nettle soup.
Eating nettles may sound strange, but they lose their sting when cooked and have been eaten in Britain throughout history. Even Samuel Pepys sampled nettle porridge on February 25th, 1661. The trend died out recently, I have no idea why. Nettles contain significant amounts of iron and calcium, also giving you a big hit of vitamin A.
Dan and Ruth have been raiding the hedgerows of South London, looking for stinging nettles and wild garlic. ‘Tis that time of year! It is so good to be outside in the green. I love the seasons, how they heighten our expectation and enjoyment of spring, when life returns and nature wakes up.
This is a recipe we will be trying very soon. We are surrounded by bushes of nettles. I love their flavour, like hedgerow spinach. I wonder if there is a recipe that uses dock leaves. That would be quite a thing! I remember as a child being fascinated by nature, the fact that dock leaves always grew with nettles. When I stung myself, the remedy was always at hand.
2 glugs of olive oil
1 onion (chopped)
1 carrot (diced)
1 leek (sliced)
1 large potato (chopped)
725ml vegetable stock (good quality)
250g stinging nettles leaves [note: weight does not include stems] (washed)
75ml soya single cream
Heat the oil in a large saucepan (preferably one that fits one of those countless lids in your cupboard) over a medium heat and add onion, carrot, leek and potato. Fry for 10 minutes until soft and the onion starts to colour. Add the stock and cook for a further 15 minutes until the potato is soft.
Add the nettle leaves and simmer for 2 minutes until they have wilted. Once done, pour all into a blender and blitz away until nice and green. Return to the pan over a low heat and stir in a glug of olive oil and the cream. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
With thick crusty bread and smiles.
Stinging nettles are best eaten before they flower (less bitter) in late May. Wear some gardening gloves and take a pair of scissors. The top part of the nettle often has the best leaves.