Anyway one thing that I kept in a box somewhere underneath loads of plastic tubs in a kitchen cupboard (take away boxes come in handy for school fairs!) was a little River Cottage Seasonal Food Guide that was included with the Guardian in 2006. And I am so very pleased that I kept this. Inspired by my newly acquired allotment and the need for more veg and less (or no) meat I have been going through recipe books and folders and in this little booklet on the page for the month of March my eye caught this quote from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall: "If you've never cooked nettles before, this is the time to try". Of course with my mantra "try something new every day" I had to go down to the allotment and pick nettles. I read up on it and noticed that only the fresh leaves should be used and the leaves only not the stalks.
I had thought about picking nettles before but never really dared. Would they really taste nice? What if a dog had urinated on them? Would they really not sting after cooking? Silly thoughts really as I have eaten nettle cheese many a time in the past and love it and I drink nettle tea on a very regular basis. So off I went with my gardening gloves and cut all the tips of the young nettles around the allotment. Armed with a basket full back in my kitchen I put on the marigolds and removed every little stalk, quite a painstaking task but I really wanted to have a go at making nettle soup. And then I found a recipe on a nettle soup website.
I modified it a little but according to their recipe I used an onion, cut in small pieces (no garlic as I had none left), 2 big potatoes cut in little cubes and fried this in a little oil and butter until slightly softened. I then added the nettle leaves, one litre of water and a vegetable stock cube. It didn't look like much but I let it boil for about 15 mins; just to make sure it wouldn't sting :-). And then pureed it with a hand blender.
Even though I already had my dinner and was going to freeze this soup I had to have a little taste. According to the recipe I should have added cream unless I was going to freeze it so I didn't and having tried it I wouldn't. I have made many soups and am VERY critical when it comes to shop bought ones and trying them elsewhere but I have to say this one was most definitely one of the most delicious soups I have ever made or tasted. I literally licked my fingers as I got the last bit out of the pan.
Thank you to Hugh for inspiring me to try and cook nettles and to the nettle soup website for the base of the recipe. I can truly recommend and will be picking nettle leaves again. I only wished I had tried this before.