On our new allotment, there are no nettles. I am sure I will be grateful for that in the long run, but right now, after the long winter largely devoid of fresh greens, nettles are my favorite vegetable.
Luckily our neighbour’s allotment grows lots of nettles, in fact, there’s nothing but nettles. In the fall he enthusiastically started cutting back all the weeds but ran out of steam and this spring the nettles grew right back and are as lush and green as can be. So we pick lots of them. The first nettle dish I made this year was this soup. It’s a soup brimming with chlorophyl, that looks and tastes like liquidized spring. It’s simple enough, just nettles and a few pantry staples: onion, garlic, potatoes. Instead of adding stock, I added a handful of lovage shoots, that have a very strong celery-like flavor. You could use stock, if you don’t grow them. But especially if you are a moderate-climate gardener, considering planting lovage in your garden. It’s very easy to grow, it handles part shade well and just one plant will usually be enough for a family. It is great for adding flavor to soups and stews, but I also like to add the young leaves to mixed salads.
This soup feels like medicine (but tastes great!), just what we need to be eating in the spring: lots of vitamins and minerals. It’s also fast to make which is important these days when I’m spending more time in the garden and less in the kitchen.
One year ago: Ricotta al forno with spring herbs (more weeds and also a couple perennial vegetables)
Nettle lovage soup
If you don’t have lovage, use vegetable stock instead of water.
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
2 smallish onions, peeled and chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut in pieces
200 g (7 ounces) nettles (just the tops), washed
a handful of young lovage shoots, both stems and leaves, roughly chopped (optional)
1 ½ l (6 cups) water
salt and pepper
100 ml cream, to serve (optional)
In a kettle, bring water to boil. In a large pan, melt butter and olive oil. Add onion and fry until translucent. Add garlic and potatoes and fry for a couple more minutes. Then add nettles and lovage (if using). Stir until they start to wilt. Add boiling water and salt and cook everything for about 15 – 20 minutes, until the potatoes are cooked through. Liquidize the soup in a blender or with a hand-held mixer. Check for seasonings and serve with a bit of cream in every bowl.