This is a lovely earthy soup, which looks great, and does you good to boot!
Nettles can be used in cooking roughly the same way as you might use spinach. When collecting, pick only the top 2-4 leaves, and only in Spring, before the nettle flowers. If you wear gloves, you can easily avoid being stung, and the leaves lose all their sting as soon as they are cooked.
½ collander nettles, tops or young leaves
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 celery stick, chopped
1 medium potato, chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed (optional)
Chicken, or vegetable stock (fresh is best, but stock cubes/powder are ok too)
1 tbsp thick cream or crème fraîche (optional)
Put the onion, carrot, celery, garlic and potato in a pan with enough stock to cover. Simmer until potato is soft. Sort through the nettle, selecting only fresh healthy young leaves, and rinse thoroughly. Add to the pan and cook for another 5-10 mins until nettles are tender (add more stock if necessary). Blend with a hand blender or food processor until smooth. Add more stock if desired to reach the desired consistency. Season, and stir in cream or crème fraîche if using just before serving.
Nutritional benefits of nettles: High in antioxidants, including a a range of vitamins, monerals and all of the essential amino acids. In particular, they have lots of iron and vitamin C.
Chinese Energetics: Tonifies Yin, Blood and Jing. Cooling and Detoxifying.