Nettle Soup – Spring Back Into Vigour With This Cleansing Vegan Tonic
When spring finally emerges, I like to banish lethargy and listlessness and that’s when I start to crave the vitalising, cleansing effect of nettles. I normally have my first bowl of nettle soup in March, but I was a bit late in foraging any from our plot this year. When the day dawned bright and fair on Sunday morning, I was determined to go nettle picking – and I did.
Nettles have been used both as a food and as medicine for centuries. They’re said to stimulate the digestion and purify the blood. Our ubiquitous stinging friends are rich in vitamins A and C as well as trace minerals: iron, potassium, manganese and calcium. The young nettles emerge in spring and this is the best time to gather and eat them. They taste a bit like spinach, but nicer.
Nettle soup is the easiest and most common way to consume this stinging weed. Don’t worry, it won’t bring you out in a rash. When nettles are cooked, they lose their sting. At this time of year, I use them as a general spinach substitute and add them to all sorts of dishes, including stir fries, quiches and curries.
I know nettles are not to everyone’s taste, but I suspect not many would turn down a bowl of this soup, especially if they didn’t know what it was made of. My mother has surprised visitors on many an occasion over the years by revealing what the soup was after they’d consumed and enjoyed it.
For most purposes, it’s best to take only the nettle tips when foraging as these are the tenderest. Older nettles and leaves can be tough. I tend to take the top 4-6 leaves. Unless you’re happy to grasp the nettle firmly and pick them with your bare hands in CT fashion, it’s best to where rubber gloves or snip them into a basket with a pair of scissors.
The soup is quick and easy to make. Fry up an onion, a leek, garlic and a potato, then add the nettles and water. Simmer for 15 minutes or so, then blitz with a blender. I used my Optimum G2.3 platinum series induction blender which turns out a particularly smooth soup. Whatever you use though, you should find the nettle soup has a lovely velvety mouth feel. I make this soup dairy free as I like to think of it as a spring tonic, but you could always use butter instead of oil and add a drizzle of crème fraîche at the end to make it a bit more special.
It’s hard to see from the photos, but I gave a bit more pizzaz to this nettle soup by drizzling a little wild garlic oil over it when serving. Wild garlic oil is fantastic and I’ve been using it a lot since I spotted a recipe for it at Food to Glow a few weeks ago.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 small onion - roughly chopped
- 1 leek - roughly chopped
- 1 clove garlic - roughly chopped
- 1 medium sized floury potato - roughly chopped
- 125 g nettle tops - well washed
- 1 litre water
- 2 tsp tamari
- a little grated nutmeg
- a little freshly ground black pepper
- wild garlic oil optional
- chives optional
In a large saucepan, fry the onion, leeks and garlic in the olive oil over a moderate heat for 5 minutes.
Add the potatoes and fry for a further 5 minutes.
Add the nettle tops, water and tamari. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes.
Grate in a little nutmeg and grind in some black pepper, then blitz with a blender. Taste for seasoning and add a little more tamari if needed.
Serve with a drizzle of wild garlic oil and some snipped chives if liked.
You can use ½ to 1 tsp salt instead of tamari, but it won't have quite the same depth of flavour.
I’m sending my nettle soup off to No Croutons Required at Tinned Tomatoes.
Other nettle recipes you might like
- Cake – Nettle lemon cake with lemon icing and blackberries vie Veggie Desserts
- Cupcakes – Lemon, nettle and white chocolate cupcakes via Tin and Thyme
- Pasta – Nettle & feta ravioli via The Hedge Comber
- Pizza – Foraged nettle permie pizza via Zeb Bakes
- Quiche – nettle and cotehill blue cheese nettle quiche via Belleau Kitchen
- Risotto – stinging nettle risotto via A Seasonal Veg Table
- Smoothie – Spring tonic nettle smoothie via Tin and Thyme
- Smoothie bowl – Green smoothie bowl and nettle powder via Tin and Thyme
Nettle Soup – PIN IT
I use my Optimum Blenders for smoothies, spreads, sauces and even chocolate making. The post contains affiliate links. Buying through a link will not cost you any more, but I will get a small commission. This helps keep Tin and Thyme blythe and blogging. Opinions are, as always, my own.