For those of you who like to follow my adventures wandering around the world, for the past week and a half or so I’ve been staying with a big, lively English family out in the French countryside, helping with kids, chores, and other homestead projects. This area is ridiculously charming and rural, and there is never a dull moment with all the little humans and animals running around!
It’s been fun to do some exchanging of meals and recipes too. Last week I made my butternut lentil soup for them (it was a big hit) and they taught me how to make this lovely nettle soup. In the US, nettles are usually best in the spring when the leaves are smaller and tender, but here in France apparently nettle season is still going strong.
Once you get past the stinging issue and get them crushed or boiled down, nettles are loaded with nutrients and medicinal properties. When blended down with root veggies and broth, it makes a simple and beautiful, slightly punchy, vibrantly colored soup. Here’s the recipe for your enjoyment.
- Half a basket of stinging nettle tops, or fresh-looking larger leaves
- 1 large onion, or a dozen crow garlic bulbs if you want to be truly wild, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 large potato, peeled and cut into cubes
- 1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
- 2 Tbsp oil or butter
Condiments & Seasonings
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- good quality sea salt
- freshly ground pepper
- crème fraîche, sour cream, or yogurt, I use plant-based varieties
- A few drops of Tabasco, or chili flakes or cayenne
- Wearing thick gloves or rubber gloves, pick 5 or 6 handfuls of nettles, selecting for the smaller more tender leaves and discarding any thick stalks. Rinse them in a colander or salad spinner.
- Add the butter or oil to a large saucepan and sauté the onion for 5-10 minutes until softened.
- Add the stock, nettles, potato and carrot. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, and cook until the potato and carrots are soft and cooked, about 15 minutes.
- Purée the soup with a blender or immersion blender and salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve with a dollop of creme fraiche, yogurt, or sour cream and a dash of something with a bit of heat like tabasco or chili flakes. Enjoy!