It's Spring and nettle soup is what's for dinner!
Because I am an herbalist, people often ask me -- what is the best way to consume nettles (urtica dioica)? It's a good question because nettles are delicious and deeply nourishing tonic and make a great addition to most diets. They grow like a common weed on several continents and are one of my favorite tonic herbs for depletion patterns. They're neutral and gentle - they're not too heating or cooling and safe for little Jimmy and Grandma too, even in high doses. In fact, the only significant risk with nettles is bumping into them while harvesting - those little needles contain formic acid (think bees and red ants) and are made for injecting. Russian herbalists recommend nettle soup to nourish the blood. Nettles truly support the entire body including the liver, skin, kidneys, urinary tract, reproductive system and general metabolic function. Highly regarded as a restorative tonic, nettle leaf feeds the adrenals and helps prevent, or re-build from, the damaging effects of chronic stress.
Do you recognize that feeling of nervous energy coupled with fatigue? That's because our stress hormones are often running the show. Nettles can help! They are loaded with nutrients, including minerals. And, fresh nettles are delicious! I prefer fresh nettles when possible, preferably eaten as a green vegetable, but fresh tincture and dried or fresh leaf tea also offer significant benefits.
Nettle root is often used to support the prostate and the seeds for burnout, but, in this post, I am only talking about the leaf. As a tea, I recommend infusing nettle leaf overnight and drinking throughout the next day. My all time favorite way to enjoy nettle is cooked in a fresh soup. My second favorite way is as a pesto (just use substitute nettles for another herb in your favorite pesto recipe!). I don't always get out in time to harvest, but when I do, I am reminded that I really ought to fill my freezer full of fresh nettle and consume it throughout the year. The summer of 2014, I spent sometime in the French Alps and made this fabulous nettle soup. It was so delicious and nourishing (everyone loved it!) that I am still sharing this simple recipe: INGREDIENTS: 2 onions 3-4 garlic cloves ~1-2 lbs potatoes As many nettles as you can collect! I filled 1.5 supermarket produce sized bags Salt & Pepper Water COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:
1. Chop onions & garlic and saute in oil (I used butter because I was in France). I recommend butter, ghee or any other oil that is stable at high heat. 2. Chop the potatoes and saute in the oil or butter. 3. Add salt & pepper. 4. Add washed nettle greens. Be careful! They will sting you until they are cooked. 5. Saute for a few minutes until everything is well coated.
5. Add water to cover and bring to a boil.
6. Gently boil until potatoes are well cooked.