Make the most of free, foraged greens with this fresh & easy nettle soup. With just seven ingredients and 15 minutes cooking time you can have this simple but tasty dish ready to enjoy!
If you are new to foraging, nettles are probably one of the easiest wild plants to start with! So long as you’ve got some gloves, they’re easy to find and pick.
But why should you cook with nettles? Especially when they try to sting you?!
- Nettles are a nutritional powerhouse - they’re an excellent source of iron, calcium and vitamin A
- They’re a free source of food!
- Cooking them destroys their sting
- And it’s kind of fun to see the look on someone’s face when they realise they’ve just eaten a meal containing nettles - and it was delicious!
Stinging nettles are known by the scientific name Urtica dioica and often simply called nettles. You can probably already recognise them easily… But read on for tips on when and how to pick them.
How to identify
Nettles have pointed leaves with toothed edges and tiny hairs on the underside and stem. The main lookalike that you could mistake nettles for is a member of the dead nettle family Lamium, which are also edible, but don’t sting. Visit Wild Food UK for more information on how to identify nettles. As always with foraging, be 100% sure that you make the correct identification.
When and where to pick
Nettles can be found growing throughout the year, but are best picked in the spring, when the leaves are at their most tender.
Don’t pick nettles when the plants are flowering. When they start flowering, the leaves develop cystoliths, which can irritate the urinary tract.
Avoid picking from polluted areas like roadsides or dog walking areas.
How to pick
Wear thick gloves and use scissors to snip the main stem under the top four or six leaves. Collect the leaves into a basket or cloth bag. We like to cut off the thicker stem as we go, so we are left with the tender leaves.
How to avoid being stung
Keep wearing gloves whilst you prepare and wash the nettle leaves. You can also crush or wilt the leaves to remove their sting.
Step by step
When you’ve got your foraged nettles picked and the onion, garlic and potato diced, you’re ready to start cooking your tasty nettle soup!
STEP 1 - Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan and add the diced onion and chopped garlic, and fry for a couple of minutes until translucent
STEP 2 - Add the diced potato, vegetable stock powder (boullion) and water, cover with a lid and simmer for 10 minutes
STEP 3 - Check the potato is tender, then add the washed nettle leaves and cook for another minute until they have wilted down
STEP 4 - Add the lemon juice and blend until you have a smooth soup
We like to salt and pepper to taste, then serve with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and some seeds on top. Here we've used nigella seeds, but sunflower and pumpkin are also great. You could also top with some edible spring flowers for a pretty garnish!
We hope you enjoy our easy nettle soup recipe! For more tasty wild food try our:
Vegan Dandelion Honey (simple and amazingly blossomy)
Creamy Wild Garlic Soup (also perfect for spring)
Homemade Elderflower Cordial (our favourite refreshing drink)
Sophie & Paul
Easy Nettle Soup
- 2 cups (50 g) nettle leaves
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion medium
- 3 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 2 cups (300 g) potato 2 medium potatoes diced
- 2 tsp stock powder or bouillon
- 2 cups (500 ml) water
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- Whilst wearing gloves, prepare your nettles - remove any thick stalks and wash the leaves well
- In a medium saucepan heat the olive oil, then add the chopped onion and garlic
- Fry for a few minutes until translucent
- Then add the diced potato, water and vegetable stock powder and stir
- Cover the pan with a lid, and let it simmer for 10 minutes
- Check the potato is soft, and then add the washed nettle leaves and cook for another minute until the leaves have wilted down
- Finally, add the lemon juice and blend the soup until smooth using an immersion blender
- Salt and pepper to taste and serve with a drizzle of extra virgin oil and a sprinkle of seeds
Food doesn't get more local than this! Enjoying our nettle soup in our garden where we also picked the nettles.
If you also love outdoor adventures, you'll love our vegan foraging recipes.