Many people aren’t that keen on the idea of eating stinging nettles. If you’re one of them, I urge you to try this delicious recipe for Nettle and Wild Garlic Soup so I can change your mind!
Nettles are young and plentiful in spring and they’re packed with health benefits too – the leaves are rich in iron and eating them or drinking nettle tea can help make your skin brighter and your hair shinier. Tempted yet?
You’ll find stinging nettles growing just about anywhere, whether you live in the countryside or an urban area – just be sure to forage well away from roads. Don a thick pair of rubber gloves or gardening gloves and pick only the top two or three leaves from each plant which will be the youngest and most tender. In the fields behind our house they grow intermingled with wild garlic and I was inspired by Mother Nature’s combo to devise this wild food recipe!
- 2 large handfuls freshly picked nettles
- 1 small bunch wild garlic (about 12 leaves)
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 leek, washed and sliced
- 1 onion, peeled and chopped
- 3 potatoes, peeled and diced
- 1 litre chicken or vegetable stock
- ½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
- Salt and pepper
- Fill the sink with cold water and add a large tablespoon of salt. Wearing rubber gloves, add the nettles and wash thoroughly. Separately wash and thinly slice the wild garlic leaves.
- Melt the butter in a large saucepan and add the onion and leek. Cook gently until soft then add the potato and nutmeg. Cook for a further 5 minutes then pour in the stock. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the potato is tender. Add a splash of water if it needs it.
- Next prepare the nettles. Put a large saucepan of water on the hob and bring to the boil. Get a bowl of iced water ready. Blanch the nettles for 2 minutes in the boiling water before removing with a slotted spoon and plunging into the iced water. Drain and set aside.
- When the potato is cooked whizz the soup with a stick blender until smooth. Add all the nettles and most of the wild garlic, reserving a little to garnish. Blend for a couple of minutes more, then season to taste.
- Serve with crusty bread garnished with a swirl of natural yogurt, a pinch of nutmeg and a few strands of shredded wild garlic leaves.
[Photographs and recipe: Bethan John for Decorator's Notebook]