Tender Nettle Spring Tease

Stinging nettles bravely pierce through the early morning mist, an omen of the fertile unfurling to come. Chilly bones rise to greet the sun, shivering as shadows pass, still hopeful, anticipating sweet sun kisses. Creamy roasted roots thether emerald nettle tops; melting stiff lips that whisper like lovers, the promises of spring.

Creamy Nettle Soup
With roasted potatoes and parsnips

Yields 4-6 servings.

Ingredients:
2 medium onions (approx 2.5 cups chopped in half-moon shapes)
6 medium- large potatoes (approx 8 cups chopped in bite sized pieces)
2.5 cups parsnips cut into bite sized chunks
8 cups nettle leaves (cleaned with stalks removed)
A handful of arugula greens for topping

3 tbsp butter or oil
1.5 tsp sea salt
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar (or 1/2 cup white wine)
3 cups of liquid (water or real chicken broth to taste)

Equipment needed:

  • Soup pot
  • Steamer, double boiler or a sieve on a pot
  • Roasting pan
  • Emerson blender, or food processor

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 400°.
  2. Wash the parsnips and potatoes and then chop them into bite-sized pieces. Drizzle with enough oil to moisten them. Roast them in a roasting pan until tender (approx 20-30 min).
  3. While the vegetables cook, chop the onions into thin slices. In a soup pot melt the butter on low heat. Add the onions, salt and spices and let simmer until the onions are soft and translucent.
  4. While the onions cook, carefully (with rubber gloves if necessary) wash and drain the nettles. Steam them in a pan or pot until they are well cooked. They should still have a bright green color but be very soft and easy to chew.
  5. When the onions have cooked add the apple cider. Continue to gently simmer until the liquid has evaporated. (Alternatively you could use a half-cup of white wine).
  6. Combine the nettles and onions and purée with an emerson blender, or a food processor. Add a small amount of water or broth if necessary.
  7. When the potatoes and parsnips have cooked, purée half of them using water to bring them to a smooth creamy consistency. Use the other half to add as chunks to the soup.
  8. Combine everything in a pot. Stir until consistent, using any remaining broth or water to bring it to the desired thickness.
  9. Add extra salt and pepper to taste. Top with arugula just before serving.

Links:

The parsnips, potatoes and onions all came from Ben at Longspell Farm. They were remarkably tender and sweet, especially at this time of year.

The nettles were lovingly harvested by farmer extraordinaire Amy Lounder at Tap Root Farm. The tops were just starting to come up, so we have plenty of time to get acquainted and write more recipes about the mighty stinging nettle.

The arugula came from Goldfinch Farm.

The apple cider came from Boates Family Farm.

All of the farms are conveniently located close to my home in Wolfville, Nova Scotia and all except Tap Root sell at the Wolfville Farmers Market. 

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