Monday, March 17, 2008

Nettle Soup

My computer is acting slow this morning.
I hope it's not breaking down.

I'm reading a Carol O'Connell book. She is an amazing writer, and her characters and plots are all wonderful. I think I've read all her books, (read and re-read). My favorites are The Judas Child, though I still get the chills when I think of it, 'Winter House', and 'Dead Famous'. The only gripe I have with her books is ever though she writes so well, her plots and characters are all so fabulous - I'm still always disappointed in her villains. It's as if her villains are not cut from the same literary cloth as her heros - and even some of the secondary characters. In fact, many of her secondary characters would make better villains than the one finally exposed. And that has always puzzled me about the Mallory Books. Strangely enough, even in the Judas Child, the final terror wasn't so the villain, but one of the victims herself.

At any rate, if I could write even half as well as Ms. O Connell, I'd be thrilled.

I was going to ramble about something else today before I got distracted: Nettle soup.

I was working in the garden and saw new patches of nettles springing up. I thought, "What the heck - might as well grow to love them - I'm not going to get rid of them." So I picked (with gloves on) a huge batch of nettles and made soup. Everyone loved it - my husband, son, daughter, and son's friend. The taste is quite unique - fresh and almost sweet. My daughter thought it tasted like I'd put curry in the soup. My son's friend thought it tasted like fresh pea soup, my husband guessed asparagus and spinach.

The recipe is very simple:

A large bowl full of young nettle tops, rinced and chopped. (Wear gloves, use tongs to rince them in a colander, and chop them with the help of scissors)
Here is a picture of the nettles in the sink, the potato, and the onion.

In butter, gently cook one diced onion, one peeled and chopped potato, & one garlic clove.
When the onion is almost colored, add the nettles and sweat them in the heat. (Here is a photo taken before I added the water ) There is another pan of onions and potatos, but that was for the Spanish omelette.

Add enough water to cover the nettles, one or two bouillon cubes to taste (I used one chicken and one veal stock cube) and cook until the potatoes are very tender.

Run the soup through a mixer in batches. If you want, stir in a tablespoon of fresh cream, or créme fraiche.

My husband thinks it would also be very good as a summer soup, chilled, like gaspatcho. I think he's right. It has a lot of flavor, and it's delicious.

Chilled with a paper thin slice of lemon would be very good, I think. Or steaming hot with a dollop of cream.



Anonymous said...

I walked through a patch of them once. Once. Learned really fast to identify those things.

Eating nettles just seems odd.

I'm sure they taste great. They've been recommended a number of times, I just don't think I could bring myself to do it.

Sam said...

Hi Seeley!
It took me ages to get up the nerve to try it. I get stung so often when I work in teh garden, it seemed folly to put them in my mouth! But I'm glad I did. The soup really had a wonderful flavor, and I have TONS of nettles left outside.

John Nez said...

Sounds yummy... only I'm not even sure if I could identify the proper 'nettle' to begin with.

They say Dandelions are very good too. But I've never tried one.

I did try eating a daddy-long-legs once... and had terrible dreams that night.


Wynn Bexton said...

The recipe sounds delicious but I would have never imagined eating nettles. Dandilions yes, as they are similiar to the wild greens Greeks eat, and I've made wine from dandilions (not a bad taste but a yukky color!)

Absolute Vanilla (& Atyllah) said...

I tried making nettle soup once, having found a patch of them in my garden in Dublin (we don't get nettles here) - it was an unmitigated disaster! Glad yours worked out well!

Bernita said...

Recipe does sound good.
A comfrey leaf squished and rubbed over will soothe nettle sting.

Daisy Dexter Dobbs said...

Mmm, sounds delicious. I always enjoy your cooking posts, Sam. I had cooked nettles when I was a little girl but don’t remember the taste. I’ve always loved greens, so I imagine I liked it. My maternal grandmother (from Greece) used to take me for greens-picking trips out in the fields. Experienced in knowing what was good and what wasn’t, she knew what to look for and taught me. Sadly I’ve forgotten her tips now, except that dandelion greens must be very young to taste their best. We’d come back from our field trips with edible weeds and wild greens and nettles and all sorts of strange and wonderful things and then she’d cook them up. Some we ate hot while others were refrigerated in a marinade of vinegar and olive oil. Delicious.

Sam said...

John - I knew spiders gave!

Wynn, I love dandylion leaf salad - it's yummy, and once we had no lettuce for our tacos, so I ran out and picked dandylion leaves!

Vanilla - Maybe I had a good recipe? :-)

Bernita - good to know - would you believe, I didn't get stung once while making the soup? Amazing.

Daisy - the herbs marinated in vinegar and oil sound delicious!

Lyn Cash said...

Okay - now THIS is something that explains a lot - THANKS!!!! I'll send my readers over here to have a look. The photos are a plus - ha ha.

Gabriele C. said...

I love nettle soup. It's the first green stuff out in spring and I'm always looking forward to it. That and buckram (l'ail des ours in French) which not only makes good soup but also pesto, sauce and salad.

Oopsy Daisy said...

Interesting. I am assuming they have prickly things on them, hence the name nettles. My Gramma was the queen of the turnip green. that was her green of choice. I prefer collard grren myself. My Grandpa would make dandelion wine which the adults would drink on christmas.

Anyway, thanks for sharing your nettle experience with us.

Although I must admit, reading John's daddy-long-legs dinner creeped me out. (Why John? Why eat a spider?)

Sam said...

Hi Lyn,
Mostly it explains that I CANNOT spell to save my life.
My daughter has the same problem. Oh Well!

Gabriele, Tomorrow my daughter and I are going back out and picking more nettles for soup. She loved it. I'm going to experiment with:
Nettle and leek soup, and also I want to try nettle and spinach quiche. Will report back.

Daisy - Yes, nettles sting something awful, which is why it took me so long to try this soup.

Connie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
connie said...

I never heard of this soup. Looks very good in the descriptive photos.