With spring slowly coming to Wales and the UK, it’ll soon be time to think about foraging for greens to make the delicious nettle soup. ‘Nettle soup?’ I hear you cry. ‘That’s just crazy.’ It may sound odd, but it’s actually really tasty, and good for you – the ancient Greeks and Romans used nettles to cure a number of ailments – and nettles also contain protein, vitamins and minerals including iron. They are a diuretic though, so make sure you don’t have the soup or nettle tea too late at night! And if you have concerns about eating wild plants, read up on them first – the Plants For a Future website has fully referenced articles.
Stinging nettles (Urtica dioica) don’t sting when they’re cooked, but care must be taken when picking them – best to use gloves or scissors. Nettle leaves can be picked from spring onwards, until the plants flower, when the leaves then become indigestible. Only use the leaves from young plants. And, in the spirit of compassion, thank the plant as you take some of its leaves.
If you have a garden space, allow a wild patch with nettles to grow as butterflies and many other insects love them. Nettles have also been used to make fibre, cloth, as a liquid feed for plants and hair tonic.
Spring Nettle Soup (vegan)
- 20-30 tops of young nettles, or many nettle leaves (use scissors to collect them into a bowl)
- 10ml vegetable oil
- 1 onion – chopped
- 1-2 cloves garlic – crushed
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 1 pint (580ml) hot vegetable stock
- 1 teaspoon marmite (yeast extract), vegetable bouillion or vegan stock cube
- 3-4 small potatoes – diced
- Salt & pepper
- Non-dairy milk (optional)
- Snip the nettle leaves into a bowl with scissors, and then shake / check the nettle tops and leaves to remove any insects /other things. Cover with water and rinse. Drain and snip the leaves off the stems.
- Heat the oil in a pan and add the chopped onion and garlic. Sauté for about 5 minutes over a medium heat.
- Add the flour and stir for 30 seconds.
- Add the stock gradually, stirring all the time. Add the marmite/other flavouring and bring to the boil.
- Add the chopped potatoes and simmer for about 5 minutes.
- Add the chopped nettle leaves.
- Add salt and pepper as required, and then simmer for about 15 minutes. Blend the soup or leave it chunky. You can add non-dairy milk to make it more of a creamy soup if you prefer.
- Serves 2-3.