What better way to connect with nature than to forage for your food in the wild? Nettles are great for this as they can be found everywhere in the UK and are easily recognisable.
Yes, Spring is the season for stinging nettles – so No.12 on our The Adventurer’s Handbook list of #5Things is to Cook on the Wild Side – forage for your own stinging nettles and make your own basic wild nettle soup!
Read on for foraging tips and a simple nettle soup recipe…
Whilst it might come as a surprise, stinging nettles have been used as a foodstuff for many years – it tastes similar to spinach! They are also good for you. Nettles have an unusually high protein content for a vegetable and are rich in vitamins A, C, D, iron, potassium and calcium and have a wide range of benefits as medicinal plants, according to Mother Earth News.
- Wear long sleeves and thick gloves.
- Always pull up from the roots.
- Pick them while they’re young and tender – if they’ve already flowered it’s too late.
- Wash them in hot water (this neutralises the stinging chemicals and makes them safe to eat.
Here’s a simple recipe from foraging king Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Hedgerow Handbook:
Half a carrier bagful of stinging nettle tops, or fresh-looking larger leaves / 50g butter / 1 large onion (or a dozen crow garlic bulbs if you want to be truly wild), peeled and finely chopped / 1 litre vegetable or chicken stock, or even light fish stock / 1 large potato, peeled and cut into cubes / 1 large carrot, peeled and chopped / Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper / 2 tbsp crème fraîche / A few drops of extra-virgin olive oil / A few drops of Tabasco
Wearing rubber gloves, sort through the nettles, discarding anything you don’t like the look of and any thick stalks. Wash the nettles and drain in a colander.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan, add the onion and cook gently for 5-7 minutes until softened.
Add the stock, nettles, potato and carrot. Bring to a simmer and cook gently until the potato is soft, about 15 minutes.
Remove from the heat. Using an electric hand-held stick blender, purée the soup and then season with salt and pepper to taste.
Ladle into warmed bowls and float a teaspoonful of creme fraiche on top. As this melts, swirl in a few drops of extra-virgin olive oil and Tabasco.
Why not give it a go?
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Keep checking back on this blog for even more essential things every adventurer should experience before their 16th Birthday!