Friday, March 30, 2007

Nettle Soup

Following the success of my dandelion salad, I thought I'd continue my "backyard forage" experiments with nettle soup.

I've made nettle soap before, and it was a great success. So I already knew that it only takes a little bit of heat to disarm the stings. There's no danger at all that your lunch will sting your mouth, as long as it is well-cooked. I collected a dish of nettles from my back garden, wearing rubber gloves, and added them to some potato soup. It tasted lovely - not strong, but just delicately "green". Perhaps a little bit like spinach.

I'll definitely make it again. It's delicious hot, but its delicate flavour also tastes good chilled and thinned out with a little cold milk, like Vichyssoise. If nothing else, it's a welcome change from sodding cabbage.

Nettle Soup
Peel a couple of floury potatoes, dice, and simmer in half a pint of duck stock (if you don't have duck stock you'll have to use a chicken or vegetarian stock cube) and half a pint of milk. Whilst it's boiling, go outside and collect a breakfast bowl full of nettle tops - the top 4-6 young leaves of each plant. Give them a rinse and pick out any "extras", then add them whole to the potatoes. When the potatoes are tender, whizz it all up with a stick blender. Stir in plenty of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, and serve with a swirl of home-made yogurt (or cream, or creme fraiche, or whatever you've got).

11 comments:

Clare said...

Are you sure you didn't make nettle and ladybird soup?!

I hope your cold is better soon.

Gid said...

Don't forget that the young leaves from the hawthorn are very nice in a salad too.. and plant nasturtiums in any spare places.. the ground cover they give stops weed growth, you can eat the flowers and collect the flower buds for pickling..

Melanie Rimmer said...

Yes, and even though they're an annual, you only have to plant nasturtiums once because they self-seed everywhere. They taste lovely, too. Slightly peppery, like watercress but milder. The trouble with eating them, I've found, is that they get simply covered with blackfly.

allotmentjunkies said...

Hey Mel

I recently made nettle soup and can vouch for the fact that it doesn't sting your tongue/mouth. Gloves are a must - i could feel my finger tips still tingling 3 days later. Whoops!

I'm gonna go off dandelion foraging now... I won't have to go far - just out to my rubbish lawn!

Cheers Keener

Melanie Rimmer said...

You do know Keener that dock leaves take the pain and swelling out of nettle stings? The way to apply them is to crush the dock leaf in your fingers and rub it roughly to extract the juice, then rub the green juice in the sore area. I can vouch that it works like magic - untreated nettle stings can be painful for days like you say, but with dock leaf juice the pain goes very quickly and stays gone. I don't know if it works on a three-day-old sting. I usually do it immediately. try it if you can, and let me know.

Come to think of it, I wonder if it works on any insect stings or bites? I'll just go and research what causes the nettle's sting - if it's an acid like ant bites and bee stings then presumably the dock juice is alkali and should work for them, too.

yellow said...

I can vouch for that. When I went fishing in Eire with my hubby & father in law I neede to 'go' so they stopped the boat & let me jump over a mound for some privacy. Unfortunately I crouched down too low & got very stung on the bum. I spent the rest of the day with a handful of dock leaves stuffed in my knichers. I caught the biggest pike that day though.

Nerd in the Country said...

Of all the things to grumble about... I can't find any nettles around here! There are some plants near Olga Lake that look like nettles, but lack the sting. I think they're called false nettles.

Nettles are really good for you. They can be steamed like spinach. Just don't eat them raw! ;-) They have to be collected young or they'll be gritty. Even old ones can be dried and used to make tea (though I haven't tried it.)

Nettles can be dried and used as animal feed. If we had a nice patch of them, I would use it to make hay for the goats. Supposedly, cows and goats produce rich milk when fed nettles.

By the way, the sting from nettles comes from formic acid (if I recall correctly.)

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