Nettle Soup

Foraging for Food

I was reading an article by Kate Humble this week. She was talking about foraging for food on her farm. Apparently ground elder is good in stews, brought here by the Romans as a herb, dock leaves can be used to wrap meat and fish to add flavour and new bramble leaves make a lovely tea.

I’ve always liked to forage and scrump for food and it always amazes me that more people don’t do the same especially if money is tight. I hate to see Autumn fruit falling to the ground and going to waste in people’s gardens. I’m not averse to asking them if they mind me taking some and most people are only too happy to oblige. Sometimes people leave produce for others to help themselves and in this case I try to put a note through the door to say ‘Thanks’, partly because I’m grateful and partly because I want them to do the same again next year.

Kate’s article reminded me that it was the time to make nettle soup whilst the leaves are still young and tender. It’s best to use just the top 5 or so leaves when the plant is about 9” high. It is similar to spinach soup but with its own unique but delicious flavour which I have grown to love.

I pick the leaves using rubber gloves to prevent stings and add them to sweated onion and potato. A massive pile soon disappears just like spinach does. I add stock and simmer for a few minutes until the vegetables are tender then I process the soup until smooth, season to taste and serve. If I’m freezing soup down to last until the winter I freeze before adding the stock to save room in the freezer.

Nettle soup (and no doubt other wild edible greenery) was always eaten in the past as a cleanse after a winter of eating stored food and very little in the way of green vegetables. It is a blood purifier and detoxifier, full of vitamins and minerals and high in iron. I was grateful that Kate had reminded me to make some. You will find the recipe in my latest recipes on the website. It’s on one of the early pages in that section.