Stinging Nettle soup for summer days
The idea of foraging in the wild is not something new to me. I grew up eating lots of wild berries and greens in Vietnam. Kids living in the countryside like me, very often, were asked to help harvest vegetables in the garden or around the village for dinners. Oh, my unclouded childhood memories! They were sure one of the happiest moments in my lifetime. They are the reason why I love exploring new trees and herbs so much.
Some people enjoy modernized cities, but I know I am not the case. I am the type of person who loves to be in nature. I feel fortunate to put my hands on the grass and sense the love from Mother Earth. She knows exactly what we all need for thriving on this planet. Do you see all the gorgeous dandelions and plantains blooming in the early summer? They are certainly one of the most nutritious and cleansing foods we are presented.
However, in this post, I am not talking about dandelions and plantains which you may be very familiar with. Today, I will introduce you something more adventurous. That is stinging nettle. Have you ever thought of eating stinging nettle? Sounds scary, right? I did not know much about stinging nettle until recently when the teacher of the farm school where I send Nam to taught us how to make stinging nettle soup.
After reading research on benefits of farming for reducing allergies, asthma in children recently (Naleway, 2004), I decided that we must send Nam to a farm school. I was so grateful to discover that our local organic Shillingford farm has farm school sessions for the kids. We love all the friends we met over there, love the atmosphere, and love Mrs. Fatma – an amazing teacher of the school. She taught us so many things about the local greens, flowers, and wildlife I have never known before.
Last week was the end of the summer term, and we made nettle leaf soup for lunch together. The soup was simple with just potato, sting nettle leaves, vegan broth powder, and a bit of oil. But you know what? Wow, it tastes delightful. I also learned how to use the Mezzaluna herb chopper. It really does make the difference in the food. Definitely, when you put your mind and heart into cooking, you bring your food to the whole new level.
Since that lunch, I have a strong urge to recreate the soup at home right away. But instead of using stock powder, I made my own chicken broth to make the soup even more nutritious. The result was beyond my expectation. We are addicted to it. I think we will have to revisit the nettle field very often since today.
Let’s talk a bit about the values of Stinging Nettle that may surprise you
Here are what I found in my search for the benefits of stinging nettle: antioxidant, antimicrobial (Mzid, 2017), anti-ulcer, painful muscles and joints, eczema, arthritis, gout, and anemia, urinary issues (Nahata,2012), body detox, as well as allergies and joint pain, slow or stop the spread of prostate cancer cells (Konrad, 2000), antihistamine and anti-inflammatory.
Great source of vitamins A, C, K, B. High in protein. Great source of minerals like calcium, magnesium, and iron (Adhikari, 2015).
One of my friends said she uses nettle to stimulate hair growth, and it really works.
I was very surprised to learn about these benefits from stinging nettle. How about you? Are you still afraid of getting stung by this wild green? Sometimes, all we need is a just bit of courage to start. I believe you will not regret to try picking some nettles and make this nourishing soup for a beautiful summer lunch.
- Nettle Leaf (use as much as you like)
- 1 Medium Leak, 1 Red onion
- 8 Baby Potatoes
- 2 Chicken Carcasses (prefer organic, pasture-raised chicken)
- Fresh Ginger (as a half size of the onion)
- Celery (10 sticks of the length 6 inches)
- Sea salt or Himalayan pink salt
Prepare chicken stock
- Slice ginger into thin pieces
- Lay the chicken carcasses, celery sticks, and ginger slices into a pressure cooker
- Add 5 cups of water
- Cook for about 1 hour, then let it cool down and extract the stock
Cooking your soup
- Chop onion and leek very finely ( it does make the difference if you put the work into this step)
- Chop nettle leaves using a Mezzaluna (if you have one, otherwise just use any knife)
- Add healthy fats of your choice into a deep-pan, then add onion and leek (I just use coconut oil or the fat from the chicken). Stir well until the onion and leek turn translucent and smell fragrant
- Add chopped potato, stir quickly for about 5 minutes, then bring the heat to low
- Add about 10 teaspoons of the chicken stock to the pan, simmer the potato until tender (Doing that will help bring out all the great flavors of potato. This is a cooking technique that I learned from Russian cuisine)
- Add the rest of chicken stock and sea salt to your taste
- Bring the heat back to high and wait until the soup reaches boiling point
- Then add finely chopped nettle leaves. Let it go boiling again, then bring the heat back to low and continue to simmer for another 15 minutes
- That’s it. We are done!
Please wear your gloves when picking stinging nettle. I find thick plastic or silicon gloves work best
Keep wearing the gloves when washing, and chopping nettle as well
Cook the nettle very well, otherwise, your throat may feel itching
For people who are highly sensitive, please try a small amount of nettle at first to see how your body react
British Society for Immunology (2016, December). Reason why farm kids develop fewer allergies explained.
Naleway, A. L. (2004, February). Asthma and Atopy in Rural Children: Is Farming Protective?
Nahata, A., & Dixit, V. K. (2012, May). Ameliorative effects of stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) on testosterone-induced prostatic hyperplasia in rats.