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!
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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.
This stinging nettle soup is one of the easiest ways to cook with nettles!
Our recipe is easier than most other nettle soup recipes which require blanched nettles. All you need to do is add in your fresh nettles towards the end of cooking for the soup!
This wild nettle soup is the perfect simple recipe for early spring. Here's what you'll need to make it:
- Nettles of course! (Keep reading for tips on picking your own).
- Onion and garlic - any kind of onion will will work, you can also use shallots or even leek for a change.
- Olive oil
- Potato - we like to use starchy potatoes such as Russet or Maris Piper for this soup as it gives a lovely creamy texture.
- Vegetable stock - we use this bouillon powder to easily make our stock, but you can use homemade broth or mushroom stock for a bit of umami.
- And finally a good squeeze of lemon really enhances the taste.
Benefits of nettle
Why should you cook with nettles? Especially when they try to sting you?! Here's 4 reason why...
- Nettles are a nutritional powerhouse - they’re an excellent source of iron, calcium and vitamin A. Read more about the health benefits of nettles.
- 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 young 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 long sleeves. Use scissors to remove the tender nettle tops. 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 rubber gloves whilst you prepare and wash the nettle leaves thoroughly. You can also crush or wilt the leaves to remove their sting.
Step by step
Here's a visual guide to making this nettle soup. For full amounts see the recipe card at the end.
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 (bouillon) 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!
As a leafy green, nettle has a flavour similar to spinach. It's has an earthy quality, and a subtle tang to it, as if you can taste the minerals it contains. The young, fresh leaves are a little more sweet and mild.
Nettles are a widespread plant and can be found growing wild in garden, woodland, fields and hedgerow across the world. You can pick your own fresh stinging nettles in spring, or keep an eye out for them in your local farmers market in nettle season.
As a garnish, a dollop of vegan crème fraîche or vegan yoghurt is a nice addition. Toasted seeds or nuts such as flaked almonds or pine nuts go great with nettles and can add a delicious crunch.
As a side dish, we love our homemade crackers, potato scones or our wild garlic pesto bread.
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 or toasted nuts.
This information is calculated per serving and is an estimate only.
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.