1. If you can make dinner from burning garden weeds, you'll do just fine in the zombie apocalypse.
Seriously. With this skill you'll be totally fine if things turn crazy. (Or crazier, as it may be.)
2. After you learn to pick bare-handed you'll feel pretty badass. (Pardon the language.)
And then everyone will want to try. And it won't always go so well. Instant street cred and/or superhero status.
3. Nettle has what your body needs.
Nettle is a nutritional powerhouse. It's loaded with what your body needs – especially in spring after the long, slow sluggish liver months of winter. You might not know you need it, but your body will after just a few tastes.
4. It's neon green.
Who doesn't love neon green food? It's a sure sign of either being loaded with food coloring ( boo!) or loaded with nutrition (yay!). This soup, of course, is the latter.
5. Two words: free food.
What's more frugal than free? You are literally eating weeds for dinner. This levels up your old coupon-clipping game by miles.
Convinced? If so, skip down to the recipe below, and get cooking. If you're still unsure, what if I told you all you need are a few other basic ingredients that you already have on hand, and from garden to table this soup will take less than 20 minutes to make and cost you just a couple of onions and potatoes?
Also: this version of nettle soup is downright addictive.
We've made other nettle soups that were "meh". But this one? It's addictively good. The key here is the potatoes. If you are paleo or on a nightshade-free diet, this should work beautifully if made with a slightly lesser amount of white sweet potatoes. I haven't tried it yet, but often make that substitution for potato-free meals. If you try it do let me know how it works!
If you need still more convincing, then let's try this route:
a few of nettle's many benefits include:
- t's a nutritional powerhouse! Think of it as a green multivitamin. Iron, magnesium, zinc, calcium… the list goes on and on.
- It's a natural, gentle energizer. Perfect for days you feel rung-out and run-down.
- Helpful for muscle aches and growing pains
- Natural treatment for PMS
- Helpful for treating seasonal allergies (freeze-dried capsules are best)
- Liver and kidney tonic
- Fabulous nervous system soother
- Great for hair and scalp care
Now then. Are you ready to make some neon green, nutritious, almost-free, badass nettle soup?
Of course you are.
You won't regret it. I promise.
You can even wear gloves when you pick. (I won't judge.)
- 6 to 8 oz. nettle tips (if you don't have a scale, a plastic shopping bag loosely filled 1/2 to 3/4 full should suffice)
- 1 medium onion
- olive oil
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 large potatoes
- 1 1/2 quarts chicken broth or veggie stock
- lemon wedges
- salt and pepper
Step 1. Harvest your nettles.
When picking nettles for eating, you want only the most tender tops. The earlier in spring you pick them the nicer the texture of your soup will be. (Summer nettles develop a 'sandy' texture that makes them less palatable.)
Using scissors or garden-gloved hands, pinch off just below the top two or three pairs of leaves (as shown above). Gather your harvest in a shopping bag.
Nettle Foraging Tips:
- If you only pinch off the tender tips they will reshoot and continue to grow, offering you a continuing supply of tender nettle to eat!
- Never harvest nettle that has gone to flower or to seed (in midsummer through late fall) as it is no longer safe for consumption.
- When nettles become to sandy in texture to be palatable they can be dried for tea. My nettle chai recipe is totally worth your time. You can find it here.
Step 2: Prepare your veggies
Peel and smash or crush garlic, and dice onions and potatoes.
~No need to peel the potatoes. There is a good deal of nutrition lost to peeling, so the lazy way – dicing with peels still on – really is better!
~Also, for nutrition sake, always smash, slice, or crush your garlic five to ten minutes before heating. This allows the medicinal powers of the garlic to take effect (something that requires breaking of the clove) so that you get the good stuff in your recipe. If you chop and heat immediately these benefits are lost.
Place nettle in a mixing bowl of cold water in the kitchen sink. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon. This will remove most of the stinging hairs and make the nettle much easier to handle.
Drain nettles, then coarsely chop, removing any debris that snuck into your foraging bag as well as any long or tough stems.
Note: If you will be blending your soup with a stick blender – see my tips in step 4 - chop nettles more finely.
Step 3: get cookin'!
Sauté onions in 2 tbsp olive oil until translucent. Add optional garlic, Stir for just a few seconds, then add potatoes, broth, salt, and pepper.
Simmer until potatoes are tender.
Add nettle tips and stir. The nettle should wilt immediately, resembling cooked spinach. As soon as the nettle is wilted remove from heat.
Step 4: Puree
Allow soup to cool somewhat, then carefully puree in batches using your blender.
Puree until soup is silky smooth, then return to the pot to gently reheat.
Tip: I find that nettle clogs the openings in a submersible (or stick) blender, even when I chop them quite fine. Therefore I prefer using a regular blender for this recipe. Experiment and find the method that you prefer!
Never puree hot liquids, and always start slowly with the vent open on your blender lid. To do otherwise can cause a blender volcano, which is not only dangerous but a waste of good nettle soup.
Step 5: Enjoy!
Serve with a squeeze of fresh lemon and eat.
There was no soup left by morning for me to photograph. Why? Because my teenager (one time self-proclaimed nettle soup hater) ate all the leftovers before I had a chance.
Yup, it's really that good.
You can read more about my love affair with nettles here.