Spring Nettle Soup

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.

Nettle Soup

Serves 4

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Stir in the chopped nettles until they wilt.  Add the cream and grated nutmeg.
  4. 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.






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