We have a big patch of nettles growing out in the back garden and I know they can be eaten. So I decided to make the most out of my unintentional crop and try using them in a soup. I found a recipe for a very nice Irish nettle soup in Darina Allen's Forgotten Skills Of Cooking book.
According to her book, the leaves are best picked (obviously wearing gloves) in Spring, I had heard before that they are unsuitable to eat later in the year because they become too "woody". She goes on to explain that nutritionally nettles are a good source of vitamin C, iron, histamine, silica acid and potassium, which help rheumatism and other pains. They also appear to help lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels to increase haemoglobin in the blood as well as improving circulation.
With all these benefits combined with how easy and cheap it is to source since it's a pretty common weed, it's pretty much the perfect student food! Free and very nutritional, who can argue with that?
45g of butter (vegan or real),
110g of onions, chopped
150g of potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 litre of vegetable stock,
150g of young nettles, washed and chopped
150ml of full-cream milk or soya cream,
Salt and pepper to season.
I started by picking my nettles, then rinsed them thoroughly. To save from stinging myself trying to chop them, I just cut them up in the collinder with a scissors.
Next I melted the butter in a large saucepan, adding the chopped potatoes and onions while it was still bubbly. I tossed them around in the pot so they'd all be coated in the melted butter, put the lid on the pot, turned down the heat a little and left the vegetables to soften. This should take about 10 minutes. After this I added the stock and brought it to the boil which helped to finish cooking the vegetables. After reducing the heat again I added the nettles and let them simmer for a couple of minutes. It's important not to over cook them because this will affect the flavour in the soup. I liquidised the soup and stirred in the soya cream before serving.