Fierce, Nourishing, & Delicious // When the Nettles are abundant and lush, this simple soup is a go-to.
You know that thing that happens when you go to a blog and have to scroll down FOREVER to actually get to the recipe details?
We’re changing it up: Recipe First; (no less important) Details to Follow.
Super Simple Nettles Soup for Supper
- Say that ten times fast 🙂
- Have a basketful of Nettles harvested ethically and with gratitude from a as pollution-free-as-possible location? Fabulous!
- Slowly sauté a chopped onion in 2 Tbs butter or olive oil until translucent, stirring often.
- Add 2 fist-sized golden, yellow, or russet Potatoes (chopped), 1 Tbs fresh Thyme (or 1.5 tsp dried), a few grates (or a few pinches) of Nutmeg, and 5 cups of your favorite Broth (or the equivalent in bullion + water). I’m restraining myself here, but I could go on for quite a while about BROTH. Favorite ways to craft your own nutrient-rich mineral broth from seaweed, mushrooms, vegetable castoffs, garden herbs, bones, etc. is something we’ll have to save for another post.
- With gloved hand, trim the leaves off each sprig of Nettles directly into your pot. How much nettles? As much or as little as you like! I used all that you see in this picture.
- Optional: Add a generous handful of fresh Parsley for some vibrant green flavor.
- Simmer until potatoes are tender (about 20 minutes).
- Blend. I like to puree directly in the pot using an immersion blender.
- Add sea salt and pepper to your liking.
- Enjoy as is or top with a dollop of Sour Cream, sautéed Shiitakes (or other favorite mushrooms), and a scoop of steamed Quinoa for a super satisfying supper.
The Details: Harvesting Nettles
If have yet to harvest your own nettles, you may feel intimidated by picking, cooking with, and then PUTTING IN YOUR MOUTH a plant that stings you… it is called STINGING nettles after all.
Fear not. The spicules (needle-like hairs or trichomes) that may poke you and inject your skin with irritants that cause a stinging/burning sensation are destroyed by both cooking and blending. They are nearly always destroyed by drying — but crafting tea blends including dried nettle leaf by hand has led to the occasional sting!
With fear resolved, let’s get to the best part: meeting Nettle where she grows! This is a plant that likes to have “wet feet,” meaning she likes to grow in damp soils. Use your best judgement regarding where you harvest this plant as moist soils may also be places of drainage for various unsavory runoff. Always choose to gather plants from as unpolluted places as possible, with respect and reverence. This means:
- don’t pick the first plant you see… walk on a little further
- find an abundant patch
- ask the plant’s permission, listen for a reply (can you feel a little ping of “yes” or “no” in your chest?)
- give as you take: pick up litter, remove invasive plants, tend the patch, offer a song or a bit of something meaningful to you (chocolate, anyone?)
- harvest only a portion of what you find — how big a “portion” is depends on the plant, but for nettles no more than 1/8 of the patch
- say “thank you,” feel gratitude
Ideally you want to harvest nettles for eating the leaves when the leaves are most vibrant. This means before flowering and definitely before the seed has set.
Harvesting nettles can be an art form. This is a plant that demands your attention. It asks you to move slowly and be mindful in your handling of her or else *ZZZZING* she will let you know. I like to don gloves, long sleeves, and trim stems directly into my bag or basket.
Legend has it that there are some humans who have developed the ability to move so slowly and mindfully that they can work with fresh nettles barehanded. If you look closely at the leaves you’ll notice that the trichomes tend to lean in one direction. If you can move slowly enough to press these towards the leaf surface as you go (much like petting a cat in the direction their fur grows) then VOILA, you can avoid being stung.
On our lovely (and rainy!) Winter Solstice Herb Walk at the beautiful Redwood Roots Farm we were fortunate to admire and harvest from a verdant patch of Urtica urens. This is commonly called little, dog, annual, small, or dwarf nettle.
This species is a Eurasian native that now has a penchant for growing in disturbed and/or agricultural places throughout North America. It differs from what we typically think of as our native stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) because is it well, smaller, and an annual. It grows anew each year while U. dioica is a perennial. These two species may be used interchangably.
Many thanks to all who braved the rain to enjoy visiting our plant allies and celebrating the Winter Solstice with us!
We included a bit of ritual in our herb walk as well by crafting Yule Bundles.
Now, time to enjoy another cup of vibrant green soup on this rainy second day of winter…