Nourishing Nettle Soup
While it sounds a bit like a witches brew, Nettle Soup is not only harmless, it is highly nourishing. When cooked, stinging nettles are completely transformed from the jagged edged, pain-inflicting plant that grows in the wild, to a mild and earthy flavored delicacy. Their obscure flavor blends in with the ingredients they are cooked with, leaving only a slight tang reminiscent of lemons and clean earth.
As I explained on Monday, nettles are a potent tonic for the kidneys, helping to cleanse, purify and enhance their function. In Eastern medicine traditions nettles are also used to enrich the blood. However, their broad spectrum of healing qualities can impact and help improve all of the following:
- Kidney and adrenal health
- Decreasing seasonal allergies
- Building bone strength
- Enhancing lung capacity
- Nervous system function
- Immune system function
- Lowering blood pressure
- Skin and hair health
- Rheumatism, arthritis and other inflammatory diseases
Fresh nettles should be handled with care (rubber gloves are advised), washed and cut from their stems before cooking. Steep in boiling water to make tea or add to soups or stews. You can also blanch fresh nettles and use to make a delicious pesto.
Dried nettles are available in the bulk herb section of most natural markets, or you can dry them yourself by hanging them from their stalks in a well-ventilated room, or in a food dehydrator after being washed and removed from the stem. If you are harvesting your own nettles, pick them in the early spring before they start to flower and use leaves from the top of the stalk where they are the most potent.
Dried nettles are a perfect addition to soups throughout the winter months and will help keep your whole body healthy. Add a few tablespoons of them to your favorite recipe or try this one, one of my favorites, for a creamy potato and golden beet soup with dried nettles.
- 1 large leek, greens and root end removed
- 3 medium-sized golden beets
- 3 medium-sized potatoes, peeled
- 3 tbsp dried stinging nettle*
- 4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
- 1 cup water
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Finely dice the white part of the leek. In a large pot over medium heat, melt 1 tbsp butter and add the leek. Sauté for 8-10 minutes until the leek is soft and translucent. Meanwhile, peel and chop the beets and potatoes into one-inch pieces. Add the beets and potatoes to the leeks, along with the nettles, broth and water. Cook for 35-40 minutes or until both the beets and potatoes are very soft. With an immersion blender or in a standing blender, carefully puree the soup in batches. Return to the pot to warm and season with salt and pepper before serving.