This is a story about Nettles. Once upon a time, not too long ago, if somebody mentioned nettles to me I automatically thought Wicked Stepmother, Fairy Tales, The Brothers Grimm. Nettles were something that wicked Queens made you eat, or sleep on, or wear, or gather or something like that. After all Nettles have a first name too, and it's STINGING! So yeah, if somebody (Paula Wolfert) is telling me they're good to eat, that's a leap of faith. Why not just boil up a porcupine and be done with it?
My main experience with nettle involved the old fairy tale The Wild Swans. I had a comic book about it as a kid. It seems these guys (Princes of course) got bewitched and turned into birds, and so this Princess who was either their sister or their girlfriend or whatever, had to go gather nettles in the field and spin them into cloth in order to make clothes for these swans and then put the clothes on the swans before they flew away in order to turn them back into her brothers, or her dates or whatever.
But I digress. Stinging Nettles aren't just for avian clothing anymore, if they ever were. People all over the world have been eating nettles for eons. I'm just late to the game, but better late than never. Nettles are one of the signs of Spring in the Farmers Market. This inexpensive weed is rich in vitamins and flavorful. In fact nettles are similar to spinach or sorrel in taste and the only difference is that certain precautions have to be followed when preparing them. They don't call them stinging for nothing.
But at $2.00 a bag I was sold. After all where else could I get such an inexpensive, easy, seasonal soup? If you're lucky enough to have nettles at your local market or in your garden don't be afraid to try them, and if you don't, spinach or watercress will do just as well.
There it is. The sting but not the taste taken out, guaranteed to turn any old goose into a Prince. —Kathy Gori
- Serves 8
onion finely chopped
vegetable or chicken broth
- To avoid any sort of rash or getting stung, make sure that you wear some sort of gloves whenever handling the nettles, even after cooking them.
- Boil a pot of water add in the 2 tsp of salt. When the water is boiling toss in the nettles.
- Boil the nettles for about 1 to 2 minutes, so that they soften. Drain them in a colendar. Run cold water over them.
- Trim off the stems, and chop the nettles. It's okay to remove your gloves now.
- Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a pot and toss in the chopped onion.
- Saute the onion in the pot until it's turned translucent.
- Add in the rice, and the chicken or vegetable broth.
- Add in the cooked nettles.
- Bring everything to a boil then turn the heat down to medium low, slap a lid on things and let it all cook for about 15 to 20 minutes until the rice or potatoes are soft.
- Put the soup in a food processor or use an immersion blender and puree everything.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper. Decorate with a bit of sour cream or yogurt and serve it up.