Sunday, May 26, 2013

A Light Spring Soup With Buttermilk Biscuits!

Nettle Soup
   This is a story about Nettles. Once upon a time, not too long ago, if somebody mentioned nettles to me I automatically thought Wicked Stepmother, Fairy Tales, The Brothers Grimm. Nettles were something that wicked Queens made you eat, or sleep on, or wear, or gather or something like that. After all Nettles have a first name too, and it's STINGING! So yeah, if somebody (Paula Wolfert) is telling me they're good to eat, that's a leap of faith. Why not just boil up a porcupine and be done with it?

   My main experience with nettle involved the old fairy tale The Wild Swans. I had a comic book about it as a kid. It seems these guys (Princes of course) got bewitched and turned into birds, and so this Princess who was either their sister or their girlfriend or whatever, had to go gather nettles in the field and spin them into cloth in order to make clothes for these swans and then put the clothes on the swans before they flew away in order to turn them back into her brothers, or her dates or whatever.

   In the story, he turns out like this

In reality he'd probably look more like this.

   But I digress. Stinging Nettles aren't just for avian clothing anymore, if they ever were. People all over the world have been eating nettles for eons. I'm just late to the game, but better late than never. Nettles are one of the signs of Spring in the Farmers Market. This inexpensive weed is rich in vitamins and flavorful. In fact nettles are similar to spinach or sorrel in taste and the only difference is that certain precautions have to be followed when preparing them. They don't call them stinging for nothing.


   In fact Wikipedia has this to say about them:

   The leaves and stems are very hairy with non-stinging hairs and also bear many stinging hairs (trichomes), whose tips come off when touched, transforming the hair into a needle that will inject several chemicals: acetylcholine, histamine, 5-HT (serotonin), moroidin, leukotrienes, and possibly formic acid. This mixture of chemical compounds cause a painful sting or paresthesia from which the species derives its common name.
   So then how does the smart nettler deal with the sharp hairy little buggers? With plain old medical gloves that's how!

nettles, nettle soup

Weirdly enough, while processing them I felt less like this:

And more like this:

But at $2.00 a bag I was sold. After all where else could I get such an inexpensive, easy, seasonal soup? If you're lucky enough to have nettles at your local market or in your garden don't be afraid to try them, and if you don't, spinach or watercress will do just as well.

Spring Nettle Soup

Here's What You Need: 

1/2 lb Stinging nettles
2 tsps salt
1 onion finely chopped
2 Tbs olive oil
4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1/4 cup basmati rice, or 1 lb peeled diced boiling potatoes
1/2 cup sour cream

Here's What To Do: 

Boil a pot of water add in the 2 tsp of salt.

nettles,nettle soup

When the water is boiling toss in the nettles.

nettle soup, boiling nettles

To avoid any sort of rash or getting stung, make sure that you wear some sort of gloves whenever handling the nettles, even after cooking them.

Boil the nettles for about 1 to 2 minutes, so that they soften.
Drain them in a colendar.

Run cold water over them.

rinsing nettles

Trim off the stems, and chop the nettles. It's okay to remove your gloves now.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a pot and toss in the chopped onion.

nettle soup

Saute the onion in the pot until it's turned translucent.
Add in the rice.

And the chicken or vegetable broth.

Add in the  cooked nettles.

nettle soup

Bring everything to a boil then turn the heat down to medium low, slap a lid on things and let it all cook for about 15 to 20 minutes until the rice or potatoes are soft.
Put the soup in a food processor or use an immersion blender and puree everything.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.
 Decorate with a bit of sour cream or yogurt and serve it up.

Nettle Soup, soup, vegetarian soup

There it is. The sting but not the taste taken out, guaranteed to turn any old goose into a Prince.
But what would soup be without butter milk biscuits? Alone, is what it would be, at least at my house. So follow this link to my  Buttermilk Biscuits Recipe

   This is what you'll find.

buttermilk biscuits, biscuits, quick bread
   So, there you have it, a quick Spring fix, courtesy of the Farmers Market. Coming up next more seasonal Indian cooking and something extra. Follow along on Twitter @kathygori


  1. Some of my favorite clips, you got there! I've heard such magical things with this, and good to know how to use them!

  2. Lovely recipe. Stinging nettle is used extensively in the north eastern region of India and it grows all over the places, wild. We tasted the best stinging nettle soup in Gangtok. This one looks like we would love to cook it anytime. Want to grow stinging nettle in my backyard now :-)

  3. Looks delicious!
    Stinging nettles reminds me of seeing 'Bedknobs & Broomsticks" when I was 6 yrs old.
    I believe Ms. Price fed 'stewed stinging nettles' to the 3 dismayed children in the film.
    I also recall witches, spells, flying brooms, Nazis, deserted mansions, suits of armor, black cats, and boiled dragon's liver. That was 1971, geez I'm old!
    I wish I were in Sonoma now.
    It's the icky, sticky, muggy & buggy Monsoon season here in Nepal.
    Hopefully we'll visit the in-laws up in Kashmir where it's still cool soon!



Blog Widget by LinkWithin