I love spinach, so nettle soup seemed worth a go. Apparently they taste similar. Rummaging around t’internet, I found a recipe by the best friend of battery hens and respected chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, then set off last weekend to pick nettles.
As it turns out, nettle soup is totally delicious. Here’s Hugh’s excellent take on an ancient recipe that us Brits have probably been eating for thousands of years.
Ingredients – nettle soup for four people
- 150g of nettle tops, the succulent paler green bits rather than the mature dark green leaves
- a 35g chunk of butter
- a large, finely sliced onion
- a couple of small leeks, finely chopped
- a clove of garlic
- a litre of chicken stock
- salt & pepper
- thick plain yoghurt
- chopped chives
- Wash your nettles and chuck away the stalks
- melt the butter in a pan and gently fry the onion, leek, garlic and celery
- cover and heat gently for ten minutes until it’s all soft (but not brown)
- add the rice to your stock, bring it to simmering point and cook for ten minutes
- stir in the nettles and simmer for five minutes
- add salt and pepper
- serve with a blob of yoghurt and chopped chives on top, and crusty bread ‘n’ butter
My mum uses nettles to sting her hands when her arthritis get particularly painful and she swears it helps dull the pain quite considerably, so there’s obviously more to the humble nettle than meets the eye. It’s also a big favourite with the caterpillars of Small Tortoiseshell, Red Admiral, Peacock, Painted Lady and Comma butterflies, so an invaluable member of any good wildlife garden.