Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Stinging Nettles Soup

As most of you may have already noticed, Wil and I have been making trips to the countryside fairly regularly in the last weeks and months. After picking mushrooms last fall we began looking into self-sufficiency and are now really curious of what else can be found in nature that is edible and for free. Don't worry, we are not turning into hippies. But once you experienced picking your own food, rather than buying it in the supermarket, you get kind of addicted. For example, at one of our last trips we found chive growing like weeds everywhere we walked. There were also tons of wild strawberry plants that hopefully soon, will carry delicious berries. And we cannot wait to find a mustard, horseradisch or wild garlic plant etc. Yes, all these things can be found, probably a few miles away from your doorstep, and I'm not talking about your local grocery stores here...
well, maybe that is a little bit hippie just without the tree-hugging.

Best is to pick the fresh young nettle leaves.

So in front of Wil's studio, there are tons of nettles. Most people hate them cause they sting and grow like crazy. But, in fact, they also get used for medicinal and cosmetic purposes, for example as a remedy for arthritis and intestinal problems, as well as for purifications and fasts. Nettles are really good for your liver and gall bladder and they help controlling dandruff and make your hair all shiny...

You can also just eat them. When prepared they almost taste like spinach 
(but they contain more iron than spinach!).
Wil found this recipe here for Stinging Nettles Soup, and we couldn't resist, but had to try it out.
It was delicious and really simple to make! Just remember wearing gloves when picking and preparing them...

The purple thingies are wild violets, which we found in the forest, as well.
They smell wonderful, are edible and upgrade every meal!

What you need:
  • 2 Tbsp. butter, divided
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp. salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 lb. potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 6 cups chicken or vegetable broth, or water
  • 1/2 lb. stinging nettles
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (optional)
  • Sour cream, yogurt, or horseradish creme

Our alterations: 
We added one chopped carrot as well as one chopped garlic clove, and left out the nutmeg.
But that was just because we didn't have nutmeg at home, anymore...
And we decided to already stir in a spoon of horseradish and garnished with sour creme/creme fraiche.

  1. In a large pot, melt 1 Tbsp. butter over medium-high heat. Add onion and 1 tsp. salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add potatoes and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to maintain a steady simmer and cook 15 minutes.
  3. Add nettles and cook until very tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in remaining 1 Tbsp. butter, pepper, and nutmeg.
  4. Puree soup with an immersion blender or in a blender or food processer in batches. For a silken, less fibrous texture, run mixture through a food mill or sieve.
  5. Stir in cream, if using. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper, if you like.
  6. Serve hot, garnished with sour cream, yogurt, or horseradish creme, if you like.

It tastes way better if you use homemade chicken or vegetable broth rather than the powdered one.
I find the powdered stuff often way too salty and chemical/msg tasting...

They grow everywhere!

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