It doesn’t sound wildly tempting but if you are staying somewhere really rural with a glut of nettles, this is a fun thing to pick and make, it tastes good and, what’s more, you can almost feel it doing you good as you eat it. It’s also a lot better for me than my current French diet of cheese, bread and wine.
Rubber gloves are of course an extremely attractive pre-requisite (see my truly ridiculous getup below) as is a big shopping basket to collect the leaves. I lose serious points for wearing shorts but am at least sporting a pair of very sensible wellies. I thought I might have toughened up since childhood but, no. A nettle sting is still quite sore.
So, here’s how:
Pick the top part of the nettles – the first four leaves – so there’s a sweetness to your soup. Pass over any that look old and tough.
Pick as many as you can…which for us turned out to be not much at all. After about an hour (admittedly two of our five pickers were a pair of rather reluctant children)…
…this is what we had:
When it came to making them into a soup, we bulked everything up with the addition of some extra veg.
Sweat the chopped onions, leeks, celery and garlic in a knob of butter until soft – about 10 minutes.
Add the stock of your choice (we used a duck stock that was knocking around in the fridge) and bring it to a simmer.
Now add the nettles (make sure you’ve washed them first), stirring them as they wilt in the hot stock. Simmer for 5 minutes until the stems are tender.
Add salt and pepper and blend.
Serve with a dollop of crème fresh, chopped chives and freshly ground black pepper.
Recipe was adapted by Mr Changmoh – my cooking hero – from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s original recipe.