Free foraging food! A tasty and seasonal GF soup

Apart from blackberries, I've never been much of a forager, but whilst clearing up the "invisible" bit of garden behind our veg plot this morning I found the most enormous stand of stinging nettles. Great for your compost heap, of course, but even better as free food and full of vitamin C.

Now's the perfect time of year to make nettle soup, as there are loads of fresh new leaves. Here's a really easy recipe. It makes 2 generous "main course" portions.

Wearing gloves, use scissors to cut the top half of about 20 nettle stems. (They will grow back and in a few weeks' time you can do it again.) Rinse in cold running water and shake off excess water. Still wearing gloves, cut or pull off all the leaves and discard the main central stem.

Put the leaves into a big bowl or saucepan and, prodding them down with a spoon, pour over just enough boiling water to cover them. (You have now removed the sting) Swirl the leave around in the water for 20-30 seconds until they go limp. Fish them out with a slotted spoon and put to one side until later.

Don't chuck away the water! Pop in a GF stock cube (chicken or veggie) and make it up to about a pint or half a litre of stock (this is all very approximate - it's soup, no need to stress on measures!)

Peel and chop up a couple of potatoes and an onion. In a different (dry) saucepan, either non-stick or a heavy cast-iron type, slowly fry the veg in a fat of your preference (I used salted butter) for a few minutes so they start to soften without browning.

Now pour in the stock and cook slowly for another 5-10 minutes, until the potatoes are fully cooked. Add the nettles and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

Use a handheld "stick blender" in the saucepan if you have one, or puree the soup in a food processor, before adjusting the seasoning to suit your tastes - I added ground black pepper and some garlic flakes.

Finally add a couple of tablespoons of cream if you like... we do!

We haven't tried it yet but we can imagine the slightly broccoli-ish flavour of nettles would be really yummy with some crumbled Stilton lobbed in the bowls as it is served. Next time!!

8 Replies

  • I've been making nettle soup too over the past couple of weeks. My recipe is similar to yours but I don't bother stripping the leaves from the stalks - I just pick the young tips of the nettles and give them a good wash. I soften some onion and garlic in a little butter and olive oil (obviously adapt if you're dairy intolerant), add a cubed medium potato and soften for a minute with the lid on the pan, then I add a litre of GF stock made from a cube (or homemade depending what I have to hand!), throw in the nettles plus a generous cup of frozen peas - cook for 20-30 minutes until everything is soft and then blitz with a hand blender. It makes a gorgeous bright green soup and you don't need any added cream as the peas give the soup a little sweetness. I'll add a swirl of natural yoghurt or cream when serving to look artistic if I'm in the mood . . .

    Noone will guess your secret ingredient!

  • I like the idea of adding the peas - I'll try that next time - along with the Stilton :-)

    We enjoyed it so much, we are creating a dedicated nettle patch next to our asparagus bed.

    Also thinking of trying to make "aloo nettle" instead of aloo saag next time I cook up curries for the freezer. I can imagine it going very nicely with a chicken and cauliflower balti. Mmm!

  • Can I just check, Lucy, do you blanch the nettles separately or chuck them straight in the soup? I'd always read you have to blanch them before use but I was wondering why bother... you stand more chance of stinging yourself with more handling! I'm all for an easier technique.

  • No need to bother . . . just chuck them straight in! I give the nettle tops 2 or 3 rinses in fresh water as there are usually quite a few flies and bugs. Make sure you choose the nettles that haven't flowered yet - they start turning bitter once they flower. Also, avoid the bigger tough leaves. I wear gardening gloves and take a bowl to hold under the plants and then snip off the tops with a pair of scissors - not too much handling then needed as I put the bowl under the tap to wash them (hold the nettles with a wooden spoon or similar when you tip the water away) and then they can go straight into your soup pot.

    Lucy x

  • Hi lucy, do you mean just normal garden nettles. I have been cutting down then into garden bin.

  • Yes - just common weeds :) Make sure you get them from an area that hasn't been sprayed with chemicals or from near roads etc where they are more polluted.

  • . . . liking the idea of aloo nettle too! :) I think I might just try that one myself!

  • Thanks for the recipes ladies. I'm all for a bit of foraging!

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