Foraged Nettle Soup
This recipe uses foraged stinging nettles. The nettles actually do have a sting until they are cooked, so don’t attempt to touch them without wearing protective gloves, sleeves, and long pants. Once cooked, nettles have no sting and are nutritious and delicious. Be sure to see the episode on stinging nettles on Outside & In with The Cook’s Cook to learn how to recognize, collect, and cook stinging nettles.
- Servings 4 to 6
- 8 liters (2 gallons) loosely packed fresh nettle tops, well-washed*
- 15 ml (1 tablespoon) butter
- 15 ml (1 tablespoon) olive oil
- 237 ml (1 cup) sliced leeks, white and light green parts only
- 118 ml (1/2 cup) chopped celery
- 2 large potatoes, peeled and diced
- 1 liter (about 4 cups) chicken stock
- Sprig of fresh thyme or 1.4 ml (1/2 teaspoon) dried thyme
- 118 ml (1/2 cup) milk, optional
- 118 ml (1/2 cup) heavy cream, optional
- Freshly ground black pepper
*Don’t forget that uncooked nettles sting if touched by bare skin. Be sure to wear rubber gloves when washing the nettles, and if possible, use tongs as well.
- Set aside a large pot filled with cold water and ice. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Wearing rubber gloves and using tongs, add the nettles to the boiling water and cook until wilted, about two full minutes or longer if necessary. Drain the nettles and immediately place in the ice water**, or simply rinse with cold water.
2. Remove and discard any coarse stems. Coarsely chop the remaining nettles.
3. In a large soup pot, melt the butter in the olive oil. Add the leeks and celery and saute until tender. Add the potatoes, stock, thyme. and 2.5 ml (1/2 teaspoon) salt. Simmer until the potatoes are partially cooked, about 10 minutes.
4. Add the nettles and continue to simmer until the potatoes are tender, another 10 minutes. If fresh thyme was used, remove and discard the sprig. Using an immersion blender, puree the hot soup in the pot. If using a stand blender, be sure to allow the soup to cool until no longer steaming, then puree in batches.
5. Thin the soup with water, milk, cream, or a combination of any of these. Season the soup to taste with salt and pepper. Reheat and serve.
**This will help preserve the bright green color of the cooked nettles.