Foraging & Cooking: Nettles

It might be a wet start to spring, but it is here! As spring begins, natures larder begins to sprout and one of our favourites here at Brighton Cookery School is the start of nettle season. Nettles ( Urtica dioica) are traditionally eaten in early spring as they are one of the first edible green shoots to come through. This is when nettles are at their best, young, tender and ready for picking. 

Nettles have numerous uses; an excellent blood purifier, a mild laxative (we recommend staying away from nettles when they start to flower, as this is when the mild laxative effect is at its strongest!) They’re also incredibly high in vitamin C, so not only are they delicious to eat and drink, but they’re good for you. Go the Nettle superfood!

Nettles can be made into all sort of tasty treats; pesto, frittatas, beer, tea, risottos, the list goes on, but for those of you new to nettles, we thought we’d start you off with the classic nettle soup. But before we do, you might find these nettle-picking tips handy so you can get your mitts on this super green!

Nettle-Picking Tips

  • Nettles are best when very tender, so pick in the spring when the nettles are just coming up. Pick the young leaves from the tips.
  • Use rubber gloves or pinch the leaves hard, so you don’t get stung. Once picked, lay the nettles out on a tray to wilt. Once wilted they can no longer sting you. The sting relies on erect hairs to penetrate the skin and inject the stinging formic acid. When wilted strip the leaves off the stems.
  • Like spinach, when cooked, nettles reduce to about a quarter of the amount.
  • Always cook nettles, which destroys the sting. Nettles are not suitable for raw, so don’t be tempted to add them to your salad!

Check out our Nettle Soup cooking video, recipe below for you to master and create for family and friends. Let us know how you get on.

NETTLE SOUP

This healthy, delicious, quick soup tastes even better when it's free from natures larder!

Course Appetizer, Side Dish, Snack, Soup
Cuisine Swedish
Keyword Eat the seasons, Foraging, Natures Larder, Nettles, Seasonal
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 1
Calories 1256 kcal
Author Messa

Ingredients

Ingredients:

  • 600 g Nettles
  • 40 g unsalted butter
  • 2 leeks finely chopped
  • 2 baking potatoes peeled and sliced
  • 250 ml vegetable stock
  • Salt & Pepper to season

To Serve:

  • 2 tbsp finely chopped chives
  • Splash of single cream

Instructions

Method:

  1. Melt the butter over a medium heat in saucepan
  2. Add the leeks and salt and pepper and cook for approximately 3 minutes until they start to go translucent
  3. Add the nettles, sliced potatoes & vegetable stock, leave to cook for 15 minutes
  4. Take off the heat and blitz the soup with a hand blender, stop blitzing when it begins to look smooth and let the soup settle a little, a slight foam will be on the top, you need to skim this off using a ladle, once removed continue to blitz until smooth. Skim any further foam from the finished soup
  5. Serve in warm bowls with a dash of cream and the chopped chives on top

Recipe Video

If you’d like to learn.cook.eat with us, you can either join our Brighton Cookery Club to pick and chooses between our open cookery classes or get in touch with us for a private cooking & dining experience, minimum 6 budding chefs to book privately – perfect for team building, hen, stag parties, children’s birthdays or a different kind of Restaurant Experience for your celebrations where you’re the chef & diner.

For more info, drop us a line at info@brightoncookeryschool.com or call us to discuss your cooking needs on 01273 674911 – we also provide private chefs and outside event catering services.

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