12 March 2017

Nettle Soup

Spring is coming in big strides now and the few spare hours I have at week-ends when it's daylight is to experience some despair in that I stand no chance of getting on top of all the weeds. But I have my special favourites that do get priority - the rhubarb bed is one of them and as I cleared them out, I noticed that there were a lot of nettles around, so decided to try my hand at nettle soup.

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A quick browse, combined with not having potatoes in the house, made me settle for this one, which turned out pretty well, after some adjustments of my own.

Thus armed with a very thick plastic bag and my thick leather gloves (very good for brambles!), I wandered through the farthest and shadiest corners of the garden and took off all the nettle tips and a few of the smaller leaves. Volume-wise, I'd say I had about 3 litres of the stuff, per weight, I barely reached 200 g. But there was no injury involved anywhere.

Ingredients

4 tbsp pearl barley
200 g nettles - tips and tender top leaves only
1 medium onion
30 g butter
1 handful of wild garlic
1 tbsp chopped parsley
25 g chives
600 ml chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste

To serve
Swedish meatballs
Labneh or strained Greek yoghurt

Method

  1. Measure up the pearl barley in a small saucepan, add plenty of water and set to cook as per instructions on the packet.
  2. Wash the nettles thoroughly, then steam for about 10 minutes until they have wilted, but still remain dark green.
  3. Peel and dice the onion coarsely, then melt the butter in a frying pan, let it start going golden, then add the onion.
  4. Stir the onion to get it coated with the butter, then turn down the heat and let fry gently until it goes translucent. Stir occasionally.
  5. Transfer the nettles into a deep casserole, add the garlic, parsley and chives. Pour over the chicken stock, bring to the boil and simmer for a few minutes.
  6. Remove the casserole from the heat and carefully blend the nettle soup until smooth. Season to taste.
  7. When the pearl barley is ready, drain it well, then stir into the smooth soup along with the fried onions.
  8. Serve with a topping of your choice, like Swedish meatballs and labneh or strained Greek yogurt.
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This turned out quite nice, even if it was a quite un-appetising dark green. I did make one mistake in adding a whole litre of stock, rather than 600 ml and this made the soup too thin for my liking. It combined very nicely with Swedish meatballs and a couple of spoons of the labneh I made the other day. I think more wild garlic would be good too.