Perhaps it's my age, perhaps it's the fact my life is not so desk bound these days. But I can't remember a more glorious Spring than this. It appears as if the trees have provided two consecutive periods of bloom and it's been wonderful. But as the air warms through summer is creeping upon us.
The week before Easter I popped down to my parents' cottage in Sussex to enjoy some nature, clean air and a bit of peace and quiet thrown in for good measure. The garden, backs onto Arundel Cathedral's grounds and my Father made the somewhat peculiar request to collect some nettles from their gardens as he'd spotted a large and lush patch of untouched weeds. The priest, a little puzzled was more than happy to oblige.
My Father popped over and filled half a carrier bag with fresh nettle heads and strong looking leaves. Despite the gardening gloves the stingers managed to thoroughly prickle my fingertips leaving a permanent stingy tingle for the rest of the day. We found a dock leaf which remedied some of the sting. But we were both determined to make this soup and I'm very glad we did.
My conclusions is that nettles are like a nutty, peppery spinach, it creeps up on you almost akin to a stealth chilli seed.
Serves: 4 people
Time: 30 minutes
* indicates optional ingredients
1/2 carrier bag stinging nettle tops and leaves - be mindful not to get any blemished or woody stalks. Fresh shoots and leaves only ideally
50g Grass-Fed Butter / Chicken Fat
1 medium onion (brown or red) diced
2 garlic cloves crushed and minced (or a bulb of wild garlic as it's the perfect time of year)
1 large white potato pealed and cubed
1 large carrot pealed and diced
pink Himalayan / sea salt
ground black pepper
*Toasted Pine nuts.
*Splash extra virgin olive oil
*Cream (I recommend raw A2 cream from Hurdlebrook)
Slowly heat the fat in a heavy based large saucepan
Thoroughly wash the nettles removing any blemished or woody parts in the process. Make sure you use tongs or gloves!
Soften the onions and garlic in the fat slowly and once translucent add the carrots, potato and broth
Top the pan with the washed nettles and cover allowing them to wilt - keep the temperature low to medium and once they've reduced stir all together, season generously with salt and pepper and allow to simmer lightly for 20 minutes.
Once you're ready to serve blitz the soup with a hand blender and garnish with one of the above suggestions.