Stinging nettle?! Isn’t that the plant that ruins your hiking adventure when you brush against it and get painful welts?
Yes, it is. But you can take your revenge and bite back. (With some precautions.)
We’ve previously written all about the edible virtues of stinging nettles. We love stinging nettle so much as a nutrient- and protein-rich early spring veggie that we grow it in certain spots in our garden, rather than simply foraging it.
Each spring, we try to make a few new recipes with our stinging nettle. Sometimes the recipes are so-so, and sometimes they’re awesome and become keepers (like this one).
Stinging nettle soup exploration
Our standard stinging nettle recipe is stinging nettle soup, which we tweak depending on what else happens to be in our harvest or foraging basket. Until this year, we’ve always made COOKED stinging nettle soup.
The problem with cooked stinging nettle soup is the attractive, bright green stinging nettle leaf color turns to more of a dull green-brown color (due to heat and oxidation) that doesn’t look very appetizing. While we don’t mind the color, we’d be hesitant to serve it to guests.
This year, we had an epiphany. Would it be possible to make RAW stinging nettle soup?
An interesting thing about stinging nettle needles: they only impart their sting when the needles are whole. I’d discovered this feature in years past when chewing raw stinging nettle leaves to try to get a rise out of Susan The Tyrant.
Inevitably, when I’d make a show of stuffing a raw leaf or two in my mouth, she’d call me an idiot (much to my delight). However, I secretly knew how to fold and grind the leaves in my molars so they couldn’t sting me. Regardless, my displays of virile masculinity were deemed inadequate to win her praise.
Raw stinging nettle soup
This year, a big harvest basket full of stinging nettles plus a few remaining super-ripe Meyer lemons left on our potted citrus trees lead to the eureka moment… RAW stinging nettle soup.
Making this recipe only requires 5 ingredients and a blender (we highly recommend a Ninja blender). In other words, this recipe is super simple to make.
WARNING: We should make it clear that this recipe only uses the tender young leaves (not the stems) of early spring stinging nettle. As the weather warms, stinging nettle forms tiny flowers and seeds, and some people report GI distress from eating stinging nettle at this stage.
The taste of this raw stinging nettle soup recipe is delicious and fresh – almost like pesto crossed with gazpacho.
- The whole Meyer lemon provides an acid flavor and keeps the greens from oxidizing and turning brown. De-seed and toss the whole lemon in to your blender IF you have a good ripe Meyer lemon — or just use juice and zest if you don’t.
- The organic white miso paste provides salt and umami. (Our favorite white miso is Hikari.)
- The stinging nettle leaves provide the soup’s body and primary flavor, which is like an earthy combination of cucumbers and spinach. (Again leaves only, since the stems can impart a fibrous, stringy texture even after blending.)
- The extra virgin olive oil provides additional body, depth, and richness.
Once you have your ingredients ready, here’s how to make raw stinging nettle soup:
Raw stinging nettle soup (seriously!)
A delicious and simple raw stinging nettle soup that tastes like a cross between gazpacho and pesto. Nope, you won't get stung!
Wearing gloves, use kitchen scissors to remove stinging nettle leaves from stems. Compost the stems. Slice and de-seed lemon.
Place all ingredients into blender and blend until even consistency.
Serve immediately at room temperature or after cooled in fridge. Garnish with edible seasonal flowers, such as brassica flowers.
This time of year, we always have a big glass jar of stinging nettle soup in the fridge. It makes a great side dish with lunch or dinner and will load you up with lots of vitamins and nutrients. We hope you’ll learn to love stinging nettles as much as we do!