Wild Food Special Pt. 2: Cooking with nettles


Zuppa di ortica e asparagi

Nettle and Asparagus Soup

You can actually leave the asparagus out and go full nettle, but the asparagus adds a nice seasonal touch and goes nicely with the nettles flavour-wise. It seems like quite an outlandish thing to do (making soup out of stingy nettles), but honestly once you’ve done the picking, it’s really simple to make and has a special flavour. Nettles actually taste nothing like they look. They appear sharp and grassy, but they have an incredible full, rich, and even creamy flavour. Give this a go - nettles are bloody everywhere, and they’re free. FREE FOOD!

Serves 4

  • About 200-300g nettle leaves (don’t worry too much about exact weights - think two large salad bowl’s worth. It might take you half an hour to pick this amount but the fresh air will do you good!)
  • Small bunch of asparagus, roughly chopped
  • Good glug of extra virgin olive oil
  • Knob of butter (oil for flavour, butter for richness)
  • 1 large potato, cut into cubes
  • 2 medium onions, sliced
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • Good handful grated Parmesan cheese, extra for garnish
  • Fresh chives, for garnish
  • Salt and pepper
  • Poached egg (optional)

1 Give your nettles a good rinse in the sink, then drain as best you can (this is the tricky bit as you have to keep your gloves on while washing them!)

2 Fry the onions in a deep pan with the oil and butter for 5 minutes, or until really soft and starting to brown.

3 Throw in the nettles, asparagus, potato and stock, and cook for 30 minutes.

4 Add the Parmesan cheese and blend well with a stick blender. Season well with salt and pepper and serve in bowls, garnished with chives, a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese. You can also serve with a poached egg!