There’s an obvious factor that discourages most people from snacking on nettles, but be assured; once cooked, the sting has gone and all that remains is a pleasant spinach like vegetable rich in vitamins and taste. Spring is the best time to pick nettles when the new growth has appeared, so they make an ideal pairing with the wild garlic that appears around the same time. Much of the wild garlic will be getting a little old now (try to avoid flowering plants), but if you reach through the large outer leaves you’ll find some small young leaves that are perfect.
I like to drizzle on cold pressed rapeseed oil; a hearty British contender to any good extra virgin olive oils. If you can find a local variety, there’s a good change that you’d be able to find all the ingredients for this soup within a few metres of each other…
Wild Garlic and Nettle Soup – Recipe
100g nettle tips, stems removed (use gloves when picking and handling!)
50g young wild garlic
25g unsalted butter
1 large banana shallot (or two normal shallots)
2 tbsp vermouth (e.g. Noilly Prat)
750ml vegetable stock
Salt and Pepper to taste
Cream or creme fraiche to serve
Cold Pressed Rapeseed Oil, the most local you can find!
- Fry the shallot in the butter on a low heat until translucent.
- Add the vermouth, allow to bubble for around 30 seconds to burn off the alchohol.
- Add the vegetable stock and bring to the boil.
- Add the nettles and wild garlic, simmer for 5 minutes until the leaves are tender
- Season well.
- Puree the soup in a liquidiser (in smaller batches if needed), season and reheat if necessary.
- Spoon into bowls, stir through some creme fraiche or cream and drizzle with the rapeseed oil.
- Enjoy, confident in the knowledge that you are enjoying a very British dish. Some sourdough bread and salted goats butter wouldn’t go amiss too…