Nettles, popping up on the forest floor are one of the surest signs of spring. Their bright green leaves and prickly stems emerge as the ground thaws and the weather warms. As they grow taller, they often leave tingling welts on the ankles and legs of unassuming hikers. But, when they’re still small, nettles can be harvested (carefully, using gloves or scissors), steamed, and used pretty much any way you might normally use spinach or other leafy greens. They’re packed with iron, potassium, calcium, vitamin K, vitmain A and vitamin B complex and are a welcome change after months of heavy winter foods. I always look forward to foraging for nettles and turning them into this creamy, chlorophyll packed soup every spring. Enjoy and be well.
*When harvesting nettles, wear gloves and use scissors to avoid stings. Only pick the top 1-2 inches from young nettles as too much stem will result in a fibrous, woody texture. Be sure to always use tongs when handling nettles in the kitchen to avoid stings. Steam the nettles thoroughly. The cooking process deactivates the stinging property of the nettles, making them edible.
2 tablespoons butter
1 yellow onion, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 large yukon gold potato, cubed (about 2 cups)
4 cups vegetable broth
6 ounces fresh nettles (about 6 cups loosely packed)
freshly squeezed lemon
coconut cream, sunflower seeds and mustard flowers to garnish
Melt the butter in a pot over medium heat. Add the onion and celery and sauté until translucent. Add the potato and broth and simmer until the potato is cooked through and soft. Meanwhile wash and steam the nettles. Fill a large bowl with cold water. Using tongs, measure out the nettles, add them to the bowl of water and toss to remove any dirt. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Using the tongs, transfer the nettles from the water to the pan. Cover and steam until bright green and completely wilted. Add the steamed nettles to the pot with the onions, celery, potato and broth. Simmer for a few more minutes then transfer to a high speed blender. Puree until completely smooth. Add a squeeze of lemon and stir to combine. Serve with coconut cream, sour cream or yogurt.