Stinging nettle soup is the deepest, darkest green of any soup I know. Nettles are used in traditional healing practices as a cleansing tonic, and this soup has a bit of that wow-is-this-good-for-me feel to it, but also an elegance to it that can feel quite fancy. It's a treat every spring when nettles pop up at market and I can make this soup again.
Stinging nettles need to be tamed before you can eat them. How do you tame these prickly, rash-producing tangles? Easy. You cook them. Here they are simply added to an easy, super-nutritious, and delicious spring soup.
If you happen to have blanched and frozen stinging nettles from earlier in the season, just pop them in in place of the fresh ones called for here—no need to defrost them first, just let them defrost in the soup and add the necessary extra few minutes to cook.
- 1/2 pound stinging nettles
- 1 onion
- 2 Tablespoons butter, divided
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more to taste
- 1 pound potatoes
- 6 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth (or water)*
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/2 cup heavy cream (optional)
- Sour cream, yogurt, or Horseradish Cream (optional)
- Wear gloves if you're going to handle the nettles (if you don't have gloves, putting plastic bags over your hands will look nuts, but work). Rinse them in cold running water, if they seems at all gritty, as set aside.
- Peel and chop the onion. Everything will get puréed later, so don't worry too much about how it looks.
- In a large pot, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft, about 3 minutes.
- While the onions cook, peel the potatoes and chop them up.
- Add the potatoes and the broth to the onions and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a steady simmer, and cook until the potatoes are mostly tender, about 15 minutes.
- Add the nettles and cook until they're very tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter, plus the pepper and nutmeg.
- Puree the soup with an immersion blender or in a blender or food processor in batches. For a silken, less fibrous texture, run mixture through a food mill or sieve.
- Stir in the cream, if you're using it. Season the soup to taste with additional salt and pepper, if you like.
- Serve the soup hot, garnished with sour cream, yogurt, or Horseradish Cream, if you like.
* Like all soups, this one tastes best when made with homemade stock (but works just fine with store-bought broth or even plain old-fashioned water).