Green things are making an appearance in vegetable town...spring has mercifully rolled around and what a glorious thing that is for the litany of new season vegetables to have at your cooking disposal. Over the weekend, a friend dropped off a box of incredible spring vegetables from a Victorian producer that supplies his restaurant, and among the emerald harvest, a huge bunch of stinging nettles.
I love a produce box challenge, because it really lays out the gauntlet for testing your cooking skills...or failing that, your research ability. Stinging nettles are one of those ingredients that make a miraculous transformation from shitty weed to verdant edible without too much trouble or expense. Have some latex gloves handy to avoid the burn, but here's a classic nettle soup recipe you can test out...whether yours are found at the farmer's market...or your next nature walk (just be sure to wash thoroughly and go slightly off the track if there are dogs around!).
1 brown onion, peeled and chopped
1/2 leek, thoroughly washed and chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
4-5 medium potatoes, washed, peeled and chopped into 1 inch cubes
1 bunch spinach or kale leaves (optional)
1 bunch stinging nettles, washed and any woody stems removed
2-3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
Salt and pepper
In a large pot on a medium heat, add the butter and once melted, add the onion, leek, carrot and potato. Sauté for 2-3 minutes or until the vegetables have softened but haven't taken on any colour. Add in 1/2 each of the greens and nettle leaves and sauté until slightly wilted. Add stock and season with salt, then simmer for 15-20minutes or until the potato is is cooked through. Add in the remaining greens and nettles (reserving some greens till the end will ensure a more vibrant green soup). Carefully remove the soup from heat and using a stick blender, blitz until smooth.
Return the soup to the heat and reduce to your desired consistency and season to taste. Serve with a dollop of Greek yoghurt or creme fraiche.