Monday, May 5, 2014

Stinging Nettle Soup

It's official. My kids think I'm nuts.

After years of teaching them to steer clear of the nettles that take over our backyard each year, today I was out harvesting some with Jeffrey. We wore gloves and cut off the top leaves with a knife. As our grocery bag got filled, he was brave enough to inquire what I was going to do with them. 

"Make soup" I replied. You should have seen the look on his face. It was priceless! He clutched his hand to his throat and shrieked something about how much it would hurt.

Except it doesn't. I've been reading about harvesting wild foods and learned that a two minute blanch takes the sting out of stinging nettles. 

It worked! After they cooled in ice water, I was able to pick them up and easily strip the tough stems out. Once the nettles were prepared, it was time to make soup.

The nettles in ice water following their blanching.
I used this recipe for inspiration and methodology. But since I didn't have everything it called for, my soup took some unique twists and turns. I used the organic 21 seasoning stuff from Costco in lieu of all of the spices. I added some extra butter.  I didn't use shallots, but dehydrated onion instead. 

After it finished cooking (20 minutes is all), I used my immersion blender to purée it. It turned out rather thin, but absolutely delicious! Jeffrey even liked it. And he was so proud that he helped to harvest the ouchie plants!

Jayme?  She definitely wasn't feeling the soup. She had a hard time getting over the stinging nettle factor. Even though it looked absolutely nothing like nettles by the time it was done. That's okay.  I'll giver her time.  She did take a tiny taste.  And didn't spit it back out. 

The verdict? I will be making it again. I want to expose the kids to more foods, and this one uses a plant we have an abundance of.  The soup is pretty simple as long as I have chicken stock on hand. And the thick cream stirred in at the end? Yum!

Have you ever cooked with nettles or other weeds? I'm thinking if nettle tea next...time to break out the dehydrator for spring! 

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