Forage of the Month – May

Nettle Soup

This is my favourite nettle soup recipe of all time. The green peas are the game changer: their creamy sweetness balances perfectly with the robust flavour of the nettles.

Nettles are plentiful, easy to forage and packed full of nutrition. Pick the leaves before the nettle plant flowers, and wear gloves when you pick them.

You want the top six leaves of the nettle plant as they’re the ones that are nice and juicy. If you harvest regularly from a patch of nettles, they’ll produce new, young leaves through the summer. Once the plant is coming to flower do not harvest its leaves. If you see a small web on a leaf of the nettle plant, that’s likely to have butterfly eggs in it, and it’s important to leave that alone. Nettles are a crucial food source for several species of native butterflies.

Ingredients (serves 4)

4 spring onions, 25g butter, 1 small garlic clove, 1 medium-sized potato, 1.5 litres vegetable stock, 100g nettle leaves, 250g frozen green peas.

Method

Top and tail the spring onions, slice thin and let them soften with the butter and peeled, chopped garlic in a deep saucepan.

Peel the potato, cut into small dice, add to the onions. Continue to cook for a few minutes and then pour in the hot stock. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 10-15 mins til the potato is tender.

Shake/wash the nettles and add to the pan with the peas. Season with salt and pepper. Bring it back to the boil, then simmer 5-7 mins til the peas and nettles are tender but still bright green. Blend until smooth.

Later in the year nettles become a really useful plant for making natural cordage (string) and also weaving fabric from. It’s one of the plants we work with on the Wild Cordage day course.

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