This is fundamentally a recipe for nettle soup but with a side order of my thoughts and observations in isolation. Now, more than ever in my lifetime we are forced to think about the way we consume. Suddenly resources we have taken for granted as a first world country are scarce available and the stories of rationing and ‘make do and mend’ that we know of from history lessons are becoming an everyday reality. I truly believe that every dark night has at least a little light. This is a golden opportunity for us to attune to nature, slow our pace, work with the natural world and emerge a more caring, natural form of human. It’s the little steps of planting a seed in the hope of a brighter tomorrow and picking edibles from nearby (very nearby ideally!) that can bring us peace and a sense of achievement in the chaos. We have so little control over this situation but every control over how we respond to it. I was musing over these thoughts whilst on lockdown in the garden, taming a wild patch full of nettles and my inner hippy shouted “NETTLE SOUP!” Nettles are wonderful, little power houses of vitamins but are often overlooked as a pesky weed. It’s a pity as they can actually:
- Improve heart health
- Improve osteoporosis and bone health
- Detoxify kidneys
- Reduce PMS and ease cramps
- Reduce acne and bacterial skin complaints
- Improve circulation
- Treat arthritis
- Eases the symptoms of hayfever and hives
- And that’s just for starters, there have been lots more benefits been reported throughout history!
So rather than a trip to the local shop, it might be worth becoming more familiar with the edibles on your doorstep if you aren’t already. Nettles are so easy to identify, grow in abundance every where and are at their best in Spring. The best nettles to pick are the smaller ones at the top, I wear gloves and just snip them off into a bowl. Purple undersides are fine but entirely purple leaves mean the plant is stressed and therefore the leaves won’t be as nice.
This recipe is so adaptable, it is more about the intention of using new ingredients and working with what you have than it is about weighing and perfection. In case you didn’t absorb that I am going to repeat in once more under ingredients.
Nettle Soup. Serves 4
Ingredients – I cannot stress enough how flexible this recipe is. Change the quantities, thicken with a handful of lentils, add some chilli, throw in your wilted salad leaves or spinach. These are not the times for precise cooking. These are times for a warm, healthy, eat-it-as-it-comes meal.
1 onion (or use 2 onions in place of the leek)
1 leek (or use 2 leeks in place of onion)
3 cloves garlic
2 medium potatoes
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1 dsp miso – optional but tasty
Stock – see method point 4.
1 mixing bowl of nettles
Seasoning – it is likely the only thing you have plenty of so sprinkle this stuff like its eco-friendly glitter!
1. Finely chop the onion and leek and sweat in a pan with a little oil for five minutes.
2. Add garlic and continue to cook for a further five minutes.
3. Add the potato
4. Cover with stock – I haven’t given instructions for the amount of stock. As long as the stock is enough to cover the potatoes make it to the depth of flavour you like. Or add chopped herbs and hot water in place of stock.
5. Add well washed nettles
6. Simmer until potato is soft and then blend. If you think the soup may be too thin when blended, remove some liquid and set aside. This can be added if soup needs thinning down or used as stock.
7. Stir in nutritional yeast and season with salt and pepper.
I hope you give this recipe, or your own variation, a try. We all really enjoyed a big bowl of this with a make shift quesadilla in place of bread (essentially a wrap put in a dry pan over a medium heat, sprinkled very generously with vegan cheese, another wrap popped on top. Flip hallway through)
Stay safe, stay home