Everyone once in a while I have the joy of experiencing a new food, even one I could find and harvest without any effort made with growing it. I have read about nettles for years and years and have been excited about finding some on our farm. To be honest, I am sure I have some at the farm, but I just have not found them yet.
So I was thrilled to see some at our local farmers market sold by one of my favorite new farmers, Meagan De Leeuw from Handsown Farm. I just 'grabbed them' and came right home to make some soup from these nettles combined with just a small amount of kale I also had hanging out in the refrigerator and some green garlic (of course!).
I could have just made up a recipe in my head but I followed some basic guidelines from two books I love:
1) Spinach and Beyond: Loving Life & Dark Green Leafy Vegetables by Linda Diane Feldt, Moonfield Press, Ann Arbor, MI and
2) From Asparagus to Zucchini: A Guide to Cooking Farm-Fresh Seasonal Produce by the Madison Area Community Supported Agriculture Coalition, Jones Books, Madison, WI.
2 Tbsp. olive oil
4-6 shoots of green garlic, roots trimmed and then whites to greens chopped fine
4 cups water or broth (vegetable, chicken, your freezer broth, your choice)
1 large bunch nettles, add some kale - wash and remove any stiff kale stems if desired - (handle nettles with gloves or tongs when uncooked at this point)
Salt and pepper to taste plus any herbs or seasonings of choice (even a splash of hot sauce)
Heavy cream or yogurt
1) Sauté half of the green garlic in hot oil for just 1-2 minutes. Use a deep soup pot. Save remaining garlic for adding to soup in the bowl.
2) Add broth to hot pan with garlic. Warm.
3) Add nettles (use tongs) and kale. Heat over medium heat until greens are bright green and soft - about 3-5 minutes. Do not overcook.
4) Add carefully to blender or use an immersion blender to blend all together.
5) Carefully reheat until hot.
6) Check seasonings and adjust as desired.
7) If desired (options) you may add some heavy cream or yogurt at this point to the entire soup pot.
Place in bowl, add a dab of yogurt, swirl in bowl, and then add green garlic slices to float on the soup.
Oh this soup was very good with just a hint of spring freshness with the green garlic!!
I keep looking for nettles on our farm but have not found any yet. I will continue to keep my eyes open! I am not an herbalist like the author Linda Diane Feldt, but I have read enough to know that stinging nettles have a multitude of uses for many common ailments. Yes, I am determined to find some of my own on our farm. :)
Ah, yum, yum, yum! Complete with the chopped green garlic on top and a few slices of buckwheat bread from our local Café Japon. I usually get to the market after this bread is already sold out, so I felt lucky that day to be there in time to snag a loaf.
I'll include a food blessing that was traditionally said with the first corn harvest, but it seems appropriate to use with the first spring harvest, too. March and early April were often lean, hungry months until the first foods emerged. Spring greens like nettles and spring garlic would surely be celebrated when they were in the soup pot!
Footprints I make! I go to the field with eager haste.
Footprints I make! Amid rustling leaves I stand.
Footprints I make! Amid yellow blossoms I stand.
Footprints I make! I stand with exultant pride.
Footprints I make! I hasten homeward with a burden of gladness.
Footprints I make! There's joy and gladness in my home.
Footprints I make! I stand amidst a day of contentment.
~~ Osage Indian prayer
What new food have you eaten recently? I would love to know. Feel free to add your comments. May we all stand amidst a day of contentment. :)
Cultivate your life - you are what you grow - inch by inch, row by row,
Diana Dyer, MS, RD