As you may remember from my previous post on nettles, I very much like them and find them a refreshing and more springy alternative to spinach. I have a fond memory of picking them with my dad. Being back in the urban jungle, nettles aren’t really something you see and can harvest yourself. However, I happened upon some at the farmer’s market yesterday and was excited. It means that winter, that mopey and dark season overrun with cabbage and root vegetables, is almost gone…and the cheerful vegetables and fruits of spring and summer are almost here! Just the thought of tasting them made me feel happier.
The guy at the stand asked me “What do you do with your nettles?” and I said “eat them like spinach”. Which is true, but this time I decided I wanted to do something different. I also impulse-bought some green garlic because it also tastes cheerful and like spring. I could just imagine in my head how these would go great together but didn’t really solidify my idea until I Googled a few recipes and came upon this recipe for nasslesopa — a Scandanavian nettle soup.
I thought to myself– chives and garlic eh? Green garlic is a fantastic substitute for both those things with a cheerful, slightly sweet springy flavor when sauteed in butter. Huzzah! Thus the idea for this soup was born. I just had a bowl and it is hearty and cheerful, great on a cold spring afternoon.
Springy Nettle and Green Garlic Soup
Makes about two big servings.
- 2 tbsp butter
- 3 stems green garlic, the younger the better (if they have a purpleish hue on the outside, they’re a bit old)
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tbsp flour (Or less, depending on how thick you want the soup…the potatoes will already thicken it. You could also exclude it and use a bigger potato if you want the soup to be gluten free.)
- 1 medium sized potato, peeled (the starchier the better: red or yukon gold will give you the smoothest texture)
- ~ 3 cups milk (the higher fat content, the richer the soup. I used fat free and it was still delicious)
- ~ 5 cups fresh nettle leaves
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan
(I used lactaid milk…I’m admittedly fairly lactose intolerant, but parmesan and butter don’t bother me much because they don’t contain much (if any) lactose. So if you’re lactose intolerant too, using lactaid milk should make this creamy soup not bother you much. )
When all the nettles are added and wilted like cooked spinach, add your 1/2 cup grated parmesan. Your potatoes should be fully cooked. Now, if you want a chunky soup where all the ingredients are separate, you can stop here as long as you used just nettle leaves. However, if you want a pureed soup a la vichyssoise, you can proceed on to the next step.
(P.S. Thanks to the folks who posted their great photos on Flickr with a creative commons license so you can get a better look at the raw ingredients! )