We are smack in the middle of spring allergy season in Chicago and I am a sufferer. Fortunately, allergy season coincided with the opening of Chicago’s Green City Market outdoor market where I was able to buy spring nettles — reputedly a natural antihistamine, as well as a good source of iron and other nutrients. This traditional Irish recipe transforms the nuisance weed into a delicious, healthy soup — similar in flavor to spinach — that hopefully will also help tame my hay fever.
Wear gloves when handling the nettles to protect against its stingers. Cooking or blanching the nettles disarms the stingers.
3 tbsps olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 russet potatoes, washed, peeled and diced
2 leeks – tough outer green leaves removed, washed and chopped
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
2 ½ pints chicken stock
Salt and white pepper
1 bunch of stinging nettle tops, washed and chopped.
½ cup heavy cream
- In a large saucepan or dutch oven heat olive oil and butter over a moderate heat. Add the onion, potatoes and leeks. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Pour in the chicken stock. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then turn down heat and simmer for 20 minutes until the potatoes are tender.
- Stir in the chopped nettles until they wilt. Add the cream and grated nutmeg.
- Remove from heat and let the soup cool. Puree with a hand blender or in a blender or food processor. The soup will be a beautiful, deep green color. Check seasoning and reheat before serving.