We like to get our own back on the weeds that invade our farm, and this soup is just the thing to pay back stinging nettles. You’ll need to use gloves and long sleeves and slacks when you harvest them and prepare them, but once cooked, they taste terrific and the sting is gone. In the absence of nettles, flavour the soup with spinach, silverbeet, or a smaller amount of sorrel.
- 4 litres water
- 250 g mushrooms
- 5 thyme sprigs
- 4 bay leaves
- 2 leeks, trimmings only (or use 2 onions)
- 4 spring garlic, trimmings only (or use 4–5 garlic cloves)
- 150 g butter
- 2 medium brown onions, diced
- 2 leeks, pale parts only, washed well and chopped roughly
- several large handfuls nettle leaves
- 1 kg Dutch Cream potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
To make the stock place, all the ingredients in a stockpot and bring to the boil. Turn down to low and simmer for 2 hours. Strain and discard the solids.
To make the soup, heat the butter in a large saucepan over a low heat. Gently fry the onion and leek for about 10 minutes to really soften and extract their sweetness, without browning them. While that is gently sweating down, remove the nettle leaves from the stems (using gloves to protect from the stingers!). Wash the nettle leaves in plenty of fresh water and drain.
Add the nettle leaves to the onion and leek, then add the vegetable stock and chopped potato. Bring to the boil, turn down, and simmer the soup over a low heat until the potato is soft and falling apart.
Remove from the heat and puree to smooth texture. Return to the heat, season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve hot.