Spring Stinging Nettle + Ramp Soup

Oh the abundance of Spring! The bees are buzzin', gardens are beginning to fill with lush greenery, the first stone fruits are changing colors, and the forest is rich with wild edible foods. If we're friends on Instagram, you have likely seen me foraging around Atlanta in my stories and posts. Just yesterday I gathered a whole basket of Mulberries which are now drying in the dehydrator for a batch of granola this week.

While I'm having no trouble gathering most of my favorite Spring edibles, the one I desperately want to find seems to have decided to grow elsewhere this year! Not a single Stinging Nettle has popped up in my usual spots. Not one! So when I saw bags of this herbalist's personal favorite hanging out at the local Sunday Farmer's Market, I was filled with pure joy! That combined with a recent inclusion of locally foraged ramps in my Fresh Harvest box got me thinking about the creamy, dreamy spring soup. 

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A note on Nettles

Stinging Nettles (Urtica dioica) grow in temperate regions throughout the world. You can find them in sunny areas along lakes and streams, at the edge of forests, gardens, barnyards, and creeping through abandoned land. Nettles have been used as food, medicine, and fiber for thousands of years – pretty much anywhere people have settled, Nettles have put down roots there too.

Like the name suggests, nettles are known for their sting and should be handled with care. The stinging sensation we experience when touching nettle's hairs without a barrier is caused by formic acid and histamine in the tiny hairs along the stem and leaves. But when the plant is dried, cooked, or left to wilt, the sting completely disappears! 

Nettles are one of my favorite foraged finds because of their myriad of benefits. Nettles are full of vitamins A, C, E, and K, riboflavin, thiamine, and minerals (calcium, chromium, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, silica, iron, zinc), protein, formic acid and histamine, and chlorophyll (The Herbal Academy). Since they are essentially a food, they can be taken every day (and they should be!) by most people. This herbal ally is incredibly nourishing for the body, especially for the blood, acts as an alterative, makes for a wonderful pick-me-up on a low-energy day, and can support us during allergy season. There is so much more to our friend Nettle – this truly is a short and sweet overview of some of its actions. 

I enjoy the benefits of nettles in two primary ways: as a daily infusion or in tincture form. Susun Weed recommends a daily nettle infusion of 1 oz dried herb to 1 quart of water to get the full benefits of this magical plant. Now, I'm not going to lie to you, this isn't like drinking a cup of lemon balm tea. Because of Nettle's rich mineral content, it has a sort of salty taste to it and a strong infusion like this one takes some getting used to. I tend to add other herbs to improve the flavor but since I've been finding nettles in abundance at the local market, I've decided to cook with it in savory ways to enjoy the benefits in a more consumable way. After all, what good is an herbal medicine if we can't commit to taking it regularly? 

RELATED: Herbalism How To: Infusions + Decoctions
 

Stinging Nettle + Ramp Soup

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And so this recipe was born. It's essentially a potato leek soup dressed up a little bit. Nothing fancy and you can definitely make substitutions if necessary. Don't have ramps? Use a leek. Do you struggle to digest potatoes? Me too. The store was out of parsnips today but you could totally use those instead. Vegan? Use veggie broth instead of bone broth. Make it your own!


Ingredients: 

  • 1-2 cloves of garlic

  • 3 whole ramps

  • 1 spring onion (not green onions y'all)

  • 1 large russet potato (can sub with parsnips)

  • 1 quart of homemade bone broth (can sub this which vegetable broth)

  • 4 big handfuls of fresh stinging nettles

  • 1 tsp turmeric

  • juice of 1/2 a lemon

  • 1/2 cup of chopped parsley

  • 1 bay leaf

  • salt & pepper to taste

  • olive oil

  • chives

Instructions:

  1. In a medium sized pot heat 1 tbsp of olive oil, add chopped garlic, onion, and ramps and cook for about 5 minutes while stirring frequently.
  2. After 5 minutes, add chopped potatoes, parsley, turmeric, the bay leaf, and your choice of liquid. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer and cover for about 10-15 minutes until the potatoes are soft.
  3. Put on some gloves. Carefully pick nettle leaves from the stems and wash them thoroughly. Once the potatoes are soft add nettles to the pot and cook for 2 more minutes.
  4. Remove from the heat. Fish out your bay leaf and add lemon juice and salt + pepper to taste. Add soup contents to your blender or use an immersion blender and blend until smooth.
  5. Serve garnished with freshly chopped chives. 
  6. Enjoy!

This recipe makes about four servings and can be kept in the fridge for a few days. It is definitely better fresh though! I hope you enjoy this recipe! It will definitely be making a regular appearance at our dinner table.

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P.S. - If you live in Atlanta and are interested in having local and organic foods delivered to your door, check out Fresh Harvest! And tell them my name (that's Sarah Corbett to those who don't know) for $10 off your first box :)