Mmmm, nettle soup is always a spring treat! Stinging nettles (Urtica dioica) are well-known because of their exceptionally high amount of protein, which isn’t typically found in green leafy vegetables. They truly are a nutritive food, loaded with many other vitamins and minerals, and a delicious wild green to wake your body up after the lethargy of winter. Click here to read a study done in the Journal of Food Composition and Analysis, which found the leaves to have omega-3 fatty acids and carotenoids.
Anytime a plant has stinging as part of its name, one starts to wonder if this is a desperate attempt of a wild food enthusiast to get you to eat something you really shouldn’t be. Although tiny hairs on the plant do contain histamines and formic acid, they don’t pose any threat after being cooked or dried. Click here to read a nice write-up on Wildman Steve Brill’s website. He has many photos of nettle, along with look-alike plants, nutritional info and tips for harvesting.
The above photo was taken at the Santa Monica Farmers Market. Coleman Family Farms have been selling amazing organic greens at their stand, and wild stinging nettles from their farm are one of them. There are two other vendors who also sell nettles on occasion. Southland Farmers’ Market Association has a fabulous website, which can help you locate a Farmers Market in Southern California near you. Click here to visit their site.
Nettles, stems removed
Use gloves to wash and clean your nettles, removing any tough stems. Boil a very small amount of water in the bottom of a pot and place nettles (adding extra spinach is also nice) in boiling water with lid for roughly 5 minutes. Add cream, fresh grated nutmeg and black pepper to taste. Use hand blender, or place soup into upright blender, to puree. Top with a swirl of cream and enjoy!