One of my favorite things to do this time of year is go out and forage for wild spring greens. There are a variety of things growing that I enjoy: chickweed, dandelions, wild mustards and cresses. My favorite of the early edible weeds is stinging nettle.
Nettles have been used as food since ancient times. They are also used in herbal medicine for anemia and other blood ailments. They are rich in vitamins and minerals. They can also be used as a tea. The Amish kids next door taught me how to eat them raw! You pinch the leaves from the top and roll them up so the stinging hairs are inside. I like them best for soup.
Harvest nettles when they are young shoots. Be sure the wear gloves through out the process of harvesting, cleaning, and preparing. Remove the leaves from the stem before cooking.
Spring Green Soup
- 6 medium potatoes, sliced
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 large clove garlic, minced
- 1-2 carrots, sliced
- One stalk celery, sliced, or crumbled dried celery leaves
- 2 cups nettle leaves, or a mix of chickweed and dandelion leaves
- 2 cups milk
- 1 ½ cups shredded cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste
Sauté the onion in a little butter or olive oil. Add the garlic and sauté another minute. And the potatoes, carrot and celery. Cover with water and cook until soft. Add the nettles. Cook another 10 minutes. Allow the soup to cool some. Puree in a blender. Return the soup to the pan. Add the milk. Heat to just below boiling. Add the cheese and stir until the cheese is melted. Add the salt and pepper.
Variations: I enjoy playing around with this soup. I’ve made this with cheddar, Swiss, hot pepper cheese, or no cheese. I’ve made it without the carrots and celery. I’ve used fewer potatoes for a thinner, greener soup.