Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Green Nettle Soup

Green garlic, Sorrel, Nettle

Early spring greens at Farmer's Markets feel like rare treasures after the gray winter. Nearly neon nettles, sorrel and garlicky bits. They are full of nutrients, good for waking up our bodies after months of seeming hibernation. Bright new green screams spring!

We ran into an early spring market on a Sunday Mother's day walk. Oh happy me when I spotted the nettles first thing. I would have to walk around with them all afternoon, but I had to have them! I am into wild food, and finding it myself is fun. People say nettles grow EVERYWHERE. But they don't seem to grow where I live, so I was happy to purchase them. With sorrel and green garlic we would have a week of spring green dishes to be ready for the season.

Stinging Nettle warning

When handling stinging nettles, people say you shouldn't. The thoughtful farmers put a sticker on the nettle bag in case it was new news to somebody. Using tongs or wearing gloves is a good idea. Personally, I don't often get stung by the nettles. I find that when picked up gently by the underside of the leaf I don't need to wear gloves. The stingy parts are on the stems, and top of the leaf. Try at your own risk, although it helps to go at them with confidence and a light touch.

When cooked, they loose all the sting and turn into an edible green which is much better than spinach. They can be boiled, blanched, sauteed...when I worked at Tartine we would pick nettle leaves off the stems and sink the fresh tender leaves into deep quiches to cook inside the beaten egg and cream. I steamed some nettle to make a pesto. And the remainder of it was used to make this soup.

Green Nettle soup in blender
It is a unbelievably green soup and delicious. It tastes as bright as it looks and I felt positively pure and healthy after eating it. A lot of people like to add cream to their nettle soup, which you could do. I like it pure and plain

Green Nettle Soup

3 green garlic stalks
1 yellow onion
drizzle of olive oil
1 pint water or vegetable stock
1/2 tsp salt
4 or 5 sorrel leaves (or juice from half a lemon)

Slice the green garlic and onion, cook on medium heat with the olive oil in a soup pot. When softened pour in the water and bring to a boil. It is difficult to measure how many nettles are needed, I added enough nettles to fill the water, so they were submerged but dense. Simmer the nettles for 7 to 10 minutes, thicker stalks will need the longer cooking time.

Ladle the entire soup contents into a blender. Add salt and sorrel leaves or lemon juice. Blend the soup to a puree, this may take the blender a minute or two. It is amazingly green and mine was a nice consistency right away. Check the seasoning and add salt or more lemon if it is bland.

Pour into soup dishes and enjoy.

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