Nettles are one of the first green beauties to bless us on these sometimes crispy, sometimes hot, sometimes windy spring days. They are loaded in nutrients including calcium, magnesium, potassium, manganese and iron. They are an excellent spring tonic for the liver and kidneys and helps support gentle elimination. Nettles arrive just in time for the body’s spring needs – providing much needed vital nutrition and gentle, metabolic support. Dried nettles make an excellent overnight stepped infusion, but they can also be included in the diet fresh, which I know I look forward to all year!
Nettle, Urtica dioica, is also known as stinging nettle, becuase it has small hairs on the stem and under side of the leaf that contain formic acid, which sting the skin on contact. The hairs are neutralized by drying, cooking or thoroughly pureeing. Wear gloves when you initially harvest the fresh plant and in the kitchen while preparing this soup. The fact that the hairs are neutralized by thorough pureeing means you can eat them raw – I have been enjoying making fresh nettle pesto and will share that recipe with you next!
3 tablespoons butter
1 medium sized onion, chopped
1 – 2 pieces green garlic, chopped into rounds or 1 clove garlic, minced
2 large red or yellow potatoes, chopped into 1 – 1 1/2 inch cubes
pinch of nutmeg
freshly ground black pepper
3 cups water
4 packed cups of fresh nettle leaves and tender stems (don’t forget to wear gloves while processing!)
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
olive oil for garnish
In a medium sized soup pot, saute the onions and green garlic in the butter over medium low heat until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the potatoes and season with nutmeg, freshly ground black pepper, and salt and saute until aromatic, 1 – 2 minutes. Add water and nettle leaves, bring to a simmer and simmer gently until the potatoes are soft, 12 – 18 minutes.
While the soup is simmering, toast the sunflower seeds in a skillet over medium heat, stirring often, until lightly brown and aromatic, about 5 – 7 minutes.
When the potatoes are soft, turn off the heat and puree the soup with an immersion blender or in the food processor or blender. (Note: please be careful processing hot liquids in the food processor or blender, only ever fill 1/3 full and use the lowest setting with a tight fitting lid.) Once the soup is pureed add the heavy cream. Season to taste with salt.
Reheat if needed before serving. Serve garnished with the toasted sunflower seeds and olive oil.