Spring is a time of great abundance for the nettles plant. The fresh green shoots can be found in most of our local forests, making them a wonderful medicine for foraging. You can steam the leaves or make a tasty soup (see below) but BE CAREFUL! Picking them with gloves is wise as the underside of the leaves does sting.
Nettles are rich in chlorophyll, indoles, Vitamins C and A, and many minerals. Nettles have long historical use as a diuretic, astringent, tonic and are very nutritive. They are also a wonderful treatment for asthma. For those suffering from spring allergies, they can provide great relief.
The dosing for taking nettles depends on the form and the strength, and generally they are very safe – you’re not likely to experience side effects. Tinctures should be taken 30 drops 3-4 times/day, or teas 1 cup (steep it covered) 3-4 times/day. There are also companies that make capsules of the free-dried herb that also work well, if that is easiest for you. Take 1 capsule 3-4 times/day.
Simply Recipes’ Nettle Soup
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
Yield: Serves 4.
Fresh, raw stinging nettles sting! Wear protective gloves when handling them, until after they are blanched.
1/2 large shopping bag of fresh nettle tops
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp butter
1/2 cup chopped shallots
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 lb. of yukon gold or russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
4 cups chicken or veggie stock
1 to 2 cups of water
1 bay leaf
1 tsp dried thyme (or a couple sprigs of fresh thyme)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 to 3 Tbsp of heavy whipping cream or dairy alternative
- Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Prepare a large bowl of ice water. Wearing protective gloves, transfer the nettle tops into the boiling water. Blanch for 2 minutes. Use tongs to transfer to the bowl of ice water to shock them. Strain in a colander. Cut away and discard any large stems from the nettles. (This should be easier to do now that the nettle stingers have lost their sting due to the blanching.)
- In a 6 qt soup pot, heat the olive oil and butter on medium heat. Add the chopped shallots and celery and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
- Add the chopped potatoes, the chicken stock, bay leaf, and thyme. Bring to a simmer and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Roughly chop the blanched nettles. Add 3 to 4 cups of the chopped blanched nettles to the pot. Add enough water to just cover the nettles and potatoes, 1 to 2 cups. Return to a simmer and simmer for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are soft and the nettles tender.
- Remove the bay leaves (and thyme sprigs if using) from the pot. Using an immersion blender or working in batches with a standing blender, purée. Return to the pot and take off the heat.
- Add salt to taste. Add 1/2 tsp of freshly ground black pepper. Add lemon juice. Right before serving, swirl in the cream. Adjust seasonings to taste.