Nettle soup

I urge you to include your children, if you have them, in the making of this witches’ brew. Mine spend the rest of the summer whacking nettles with sticks at any opportunity, but when I send them out to pick the new leaves in spring they exhibit such care and tenderness it makes me laugh. Just make sure they (and you) wear gloves, or you won’t get very far.

Nettle tops

Two medium potatoes

Two old winter carrots

Any other vegetables you’d like to use up or think would taste nice


Fresh stock, or water and a stock cube

Salt and pepper (or nutmeg)

Pick a basket of young, fresh nettles. You only really want the cluster of bright green leaves at the very top, but I often pull out quite a bit and so do a spot of weeding at the same time. Then I sort through them, discarding any dark or damaged leaves and bits of purple stem. Give your free harvest a wash in cold water, and put it to one side.

All you need to do then is make a simple soup – much like you would with spinach or watercress. Put your peeled and chopped potatoes and carrots into the stock, bring it to the boil and simmer until they are tender. Add the nettles about ten minutes before the end. Then push it all through a sieve with a wooden spoon (or if you lived in the 21st century you could use a blender).

Add salt and pepper, or salt and a grating of nutmeg, if you like that sort of thing. Pour the cream into a little jug and put it on the table for everyone to add as little or as much as they would like. Serve with daily bread and cheese (nettle-wrapped yarg would be perfect) for a simple midweek supper which is overflowing with vitamins and minerals.