Scottish Cooking, Nettle Soup
shopping bag full of nettles, tops or young leaves
1 large or 2 medium onions, finely sliced
1 large carrot, chopped (optional)
2 celery sticks, chopped (optional)
1 large garlic clove, crushed (optional)
1 litre good chicken, fish or vegetable stock
a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
3 tablespoons cooked rice or 3 rice cakes
2 tablespoons thick cream or crème fraiche
salt and freshly ground black pepper
A little extra cream or crème fraiche
A small bunch of chives, chopped
A few sprigs of wild chervil or parsley, chopped
Pick over the nettles and wash them thoroughly. Discard only the
tougher stalks, as the soup will be liquidised. Melt the butter
in a large pan and sweat the onion, plus the carrot, celery and
garlic if using, until soft but not brown. Add the stock and pile
in the nettles. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5-10 minutes,
until the nettles are tender. Season with salt and pepper, and
with nutmeg if you wish. Puree the soup in a liquidiser with the
cooked rice or rice cakes (you will probably have to do this in
2 batches). Return to a clean pan, stir in the cream and reheat,
but do not let it boil. Check the seasoning, then serve, garnishing
each bowl with a swirl of cream and a generous sprinkling of chopped
An alternative is to serve this soup cold. After liquidising and
adding the cream, pour the soup into a bowl and leave to cool,
then transfer to the fridge for a couple of hours before serving.
For accelerated cooling, fill a large basin or saucepan with ice
cubes and water and place the bowl of soup in the iced water.
Stir to chill, adding more ice cubes if the first batch melts.
Stir well just before serving and ladle the soup out into bowls.
Garnish each with a swirl of cream and a sprinkling of chopped
chives and wild chervil.
This is the basic recipe for nettle and other 'wild greens' soups,
including fat hen and chickweed. It will also freeze extremely
well. For a variation mix the nettle leaves with watercress or
Cos lettuce. The carrot and celery are optional but make the soup
more robust and full-flavoured. You can also add a few fresh or
frozen peas, to give sweetness and improve the texture. Using
fish stock will give a more unusual taste. If using a stock cube
the best ones are monosodium glutamate free. If you prefer you
can use a medium potato to thicken the soup instead of the cooked
rice (or cakes) - peel and dice it fairly small and add it just
before adding the stock.
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