Wholesome and filling nettle soup, made from wild-foraged nettles. The taste is similar to spinach and the soup flavors combine Thai green curry spices, creamy coconut milk, chilli and other vegetables. The soup is very thick, creamy and a little bit spicy. If you wild-forage the nettles yourself, it means that the bulk of the ingredients is free.
Cost: £1.85 (GBP) *
Prep time: **
Cook time: on a slow cooker (crockpot)
Yield: 3 bowls
* Price assumes that you foraged the nettles at no cost.
** Note that foraging for and preparing the nettle leaves for cooking is not included in the prep time!
These quantities are for cooking the nettle soup in a slow cooker (crockpot). If cooking in a pan on the stove, you will need to add more liquid and cook for a lot less time.
Young nettle leaves (or spinach):
half a carrier bag, loosely filled.
Butter, organic: 50g (can be replaced by olive oil for a dairy-free version)
Onion, chopped: one medium-size
Coconut milk: one 400ml can (1.7 cups)
Soya Milk, organic: 300ml (1.2 cups)
Potatoes: 2 medium-size
Celery: 2 stalks
Vegetable stock cubes: up to two cubes, to taste
Green Thai curry paste: one heaped tbsp (or see 'substitutions')
Lemon juice: 3 tbsp
Salt, pink Himalayan: to taste
Black pepper, freshly ground: to taste
Olive oil: a drizzle
Fresh red chilli pieces: for decoration
If you don't want to use ready-made green Thai curry paste you can just include some fresh ingredients instead in your soup! The only problem is that you will have to gage the quantities yourself. I would recommend to put in a conservative amount first, and after pureeing and cooking, add some more and keep cooking for a bit longer, while tasting and adding ingredients.
These are the main ingredients to add (from the ingredients list of the curry paste I used): green chilli, lemon grass, galangal (a root member of the ginger family - personally I would replace with plenty of ginger), lime leaves, coriander (cilantro), cayenne pepper, tamarind paste (optional), cumin powder (optional), spinach extract (optional).
Nettle leaves are best foraged early in the spring/ summer. Generally it is best to use the fresh, young tips of nettle plants only, say three inches from the top. Nettle leaves should definitely not be harvested after the plant flowers because the old leaves contain cystoliths which may irritate the kidneys. Keep in mind also, if using parts of the nettle stalks, that when older, they develop strong fibres which are not enjoyable at all to chew on.
Always forage any plant in wild nature only, away from inhabited areas, industrial sites, roads and polluted water sources. In some parts of central Europe you may not be able to wild forage because of rabies in wild animals, which may be transmitted especially via low-lying plants. Other countries may have other limitations - check with local foraging experts, farmers and reliable health authorities (e.g. government advisory website).
Always handle nettles with gloves on as they will sting you! The nettles will lose their sting after 10 minutes of boiling.
While out foraging, you may wish to collect nettle seeds as well, specifically, and research their amazing health benefits while back at home.
Nettles, being a wild plant, are much stronger and more nutritious than spinach and other domesticated plants. And - as you will have generally picked them from wild natural inhabitants - they will also have grown in very mineral-rich and healthy soil, and thus you will reap the mineral benefits by eating them.
If you don't want to use nettles, or can't find them, you can use spinach instead, as they are quite similar.
This works the other way around too: any spinach recipe can be made using nettles instead!
This soup will also combine well with other ingredients you may wish to try adding, such as lentils, garlic, cayenne pepper, a pinch of nutmeg, Tabasco and/or bay leaves. Many other mild-tasting vegetables can be added too.
Just don't leave out the potato and the onion, because the nettles need the thicker, more 'comfort food' ingredient to them.
This nettle soup recipe is a combination of many of the best nettle and spinach soup recipes I could find in my favourite cookbooks and online, to make an even better one!
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