Foraging for food is becoming more and more popular all over the country at the moment and is not just free, but it can also provide you with vital nutrients that are simply not eaten enough. Stinging nettles are no exception being rich in vitamins A, C, iron, potassium, manganese and calcium.
Said to be similar to spinach once cooked, there are five distinct sub-species of nettle that are native to Europe, Asia, North America and northern Africa, where nettles have been used as a good source of food by people for hundreds of years, and they have also played crucial roles in both clothing and medicines.
The stinging nettle is a particularly well-known plant to many people and is commonly found not just in the countryside but also in parks and gardens throughout it's native range...so here is a recipe to turn those unwanted plants in the garden into a healthy and delicious lunch:
Nettle Soup(serves 4)
Wash and drain the nettles before trimming the stems and carefully separating the leaves from the stalk.
Chop the onion, garlic and potatoes and fry them in a large saucepan until they soften and start to brown.
Add the nettle leaves along with a litre of boiling water and the stock and leave to cook for 10-15 minutes until the potato is soft.
Once cooled blend the soup in a liquidiser before returning to the pan to reheat it.
Serve with a splash of cream on the top alongside warm, crusty brown bread and butter.
Wear gloves when picking and handling the nettles to avoid being stung.
Only use the youngest and freshest leaves, discarding the larger, older ones.
Nettles are at their best in the spring and are often inedible after June.
The soup can be easily frozen but don't add the cream until you eat it to ensure it tastes as good as possible...Enjoy!