We love stinging nettle soup, although I admit, we were hesitant to try it. I mean it’s STINGING nettle? But we put our judgement aside and gave it a try. Now we look forward to it every spring! Are you ready to put aside your judgement and give it a try. I bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
What Does Stinging Nettle Soup Taste Like?
This soup is mild flavoured and very pleasant, very similar to spinach soup. In fact, my kids think it has a milder flavour than spinach. The potatoes help keep the flavour mild, the onions and garlic add general savoury flavour and the dill finishes it off with a friendly fresh flavour you’ll recognize.
The soup is pureed, so it’s smooth and creamy – although my version doesn’t include cream or any dairy. It’s the potatoes that give it the rich creamy texture.
You can keep this soup totally vegan by choosing your soup stock carefully.
I knew my family really liked the soup and weren’t just humouring me when my 13 year old and hubby requested leftover stinging nettle soup for lunch the next day. That was 8 years ago – now we look forward to it every spring. Or is it the delicious butter flavoured Stinging Nettle and Cheese Biscuits that I serve with soup that they await eagerly?!
Why Eat Stinging Nettle?
Stinging nettle soup is good for you! It offers a big dose of green food power. Stinging nettle is rich in Vitamin A, C, D, K, iron, calcium and protein. Pretty amazing for a plant! If you think spinach and kale are nutrition super stars, you’ll love stinging nettle!
Not only is it highly nutritious, it’s also delicious, versatile, and free! With just a couple of easy tips, harvesting and using stinging nettle is absolutely safe. Read more on How and When to Harvest Stinging Nettle.
Pregnant women, people with difficulty consuming foods high in Vitamin K and those on blood thinning medication may want to do more research into how much stinging nettle is safe to consume for them.
What about the Sting in Stinging Nettle?
There’s no doubt about it, stinging nettle stings or rather burns. Not only does it have fine prickly spines, but those “guard hairs” actually release a burning chemical mixture (formic acid) onto and into your skin. Almost immediately, you’ll feel a burning sensation that may last a few minutes or a full day. However, when boiled, steeped, steamed or dehydrated the stingers are ineffective and perfectly safe to eat.
To prevent close encounters with fresh stinging nettle, I wear long pants, long sleeves and use gloves when harvesting this wild edible.
I keep wearing gloves while washing and prepping the stinging nettle. The sting is de-activated once nettle is cooked or dried – so there is no sting to this soup.
Never eat raw stinging nettle. Nettle is only safe to eat once it has been cooked or dried.
When to Harvest Stinging Nettle?
Harvest stinging nettle in spring (May to June) when the tender new leaves or nettle tops forming. Use scissors to cut only the top few leaves. This will allow the plant to regrow and thrive throughout the summer.
Do not harvest when nettle has flowers or seeds. At this stage, nettle produces cystoliths or calcium deposits that may irritate kidneys.
Avoid harvesting after nettle flowers and seed heads form as the plant will become gritty and tough with silica particles.
For full details on harvesting stinging nettle, including a video Read – How to Harvest Stinging Nettle
How Long Can I Store Stinging Nettle
Harvested nettles can be kept in the fridge for 7-10 days. Do not wash until ready to use. Keep in the fridge in a plastic bag with a cloth or paper towel to absorb any moisture.
How to Prepare Stinging Nettle
For our soup, I picked about 6 cups of loosely packed leaves. When ready to make the soup, I wash the nettle by swishing in a bowl of water, rinsing and repeating until dirt and any insects are gone. Drain and get ready to slice.
After washing, I separated the leaves from stems so I can cook the stems with the onions so they’re nice and tender. It’s kind of like celery – you cook the stalks longer than you would the leaves. I wait to cook the leaves until the very end so I keep that nice fresh, green colour.
Click here to get full details on How to Prepare Stinging Nettle for Eating
Recipe for Stinging Nettle Soup
Stinging Nettle & Potato Soup
- With rubber or latex gloves, wash and rinse stinging nettle.
- Separate the leaves from the stems and keep both piles separately.
- Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat.
- Add onion to pan and cook until starting to soften, about 2 minutes.
- Stir in garlic and potatoes, cook for 5 minutes over medium heat stirring every minute or so until potatoes begin to stick. Do not allow onion or garlic to brown.
- Roughly chop stinging nettle stems and add to pan.
- Add stock to pan, bring to boil and then simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until potatoes and nettle stems are soft.
- Add nettle leaves and cook until wilted, about 2 minutes.
- Remove from heat.
- Use an immersion blender to puree all ingredients into a smooth soup.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Add chopped dill.
By adding the nettle leaves at the very end and only cooking them for 2 minutes, you’ll get a nice bright green color.
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
More Articles and Recipes on Stinging Nettle
If you try this nettle soup recipe, let me know what you think. Leave a comment below or reach me on Instagram @getgettys or Facebook @GettyStewart.HomeEconomist.
Getty Stewart is a Professional Home Economist, speaker, frequent media guest and writer dedicated to putting good food on tables and agendas. She is the author of several recipe books on enjoying and preserving fruit, Founder of Fruit Share, a mom and veggie gardener. Sign up to get articles by Getty delivered to your inbox. You’ll get recipes, practical tips and great food information like this.