Wild net­tle soup

Landscape (UK) - - In The Kitchen -

Burst­ing into new growth now, net­tles have been used as food since at least the Bronze Age. Highly nu­tri­tious, they are an ex­cel­lent source of vi­ta­min C and iron. A sim­ple way to en­joy fresh net­tles is in a soup. To make: 400g of leaves and fine stems are picked, wear­ing sturdy gloves and with the fore­arms cov­ered. Only the top few inches (4-6 leaves) of young stems are used, from plants grow­ing away from road­sides and other sources of con­tam­i­na­tion. Tips of net­tles which have be­gun flow­er­ing will be more coarse, so should be avoided. The net­tles are thor­oughly washed and any coarse stems dis­carded. In a large pan, 30g but­ter is melted, then 1 chopped onion, 1 finely chopped leek, 2 sliced cel­ery stems and 1 large sliced floury potato are added and cooked gen­tly for 10 mins. Once soft, 1 litre of veg­etable stock is added and sim­mered for 10 mins. The net­tles are then added, and stirred as they wilt, cook­ing for 5 mins. The mix­ture is blitzed with a hand blender, be­fore be­ing sea­soned well. It is served with a swirl of dou­ble cream.

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