Nettle Soup (Serves 4)
• 1/2 large shopping bag of fresh nettle tops
• 1 Tbsp olive oil
• 1 teaspoon butter
• 1/2 cup chopped shallots
• 1/2 cup chopped celery
• 1 pound of yukon gold or russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
• 4 cups chicken stock
• 1 to 2 cups of water
• 1 bay leaf
• 1 teaspoon dried thyme (or a couple sprigs of fresh thyme)
• Freshly ground black pepper
• 1 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
• 2 to 3 Tbsp of heavy whipping cream
1. Blanch the nettles: Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to the boil. Prepare a large bowl of ice water. Wearing gloves, transfer the nettle tops into the boiling water, and blanch for 2 minutes. Using tongs, lift the blanched nettles out of the pot and transfer to the iced water to shock them. Strain in a colander, and cut away and discard any large stems.
2. Sauté the shallots and celery: In a 6-quart soup pot, heat the olive oil and butter on a medium heat. Add the chopped shallots and celery, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
3. Add potatoes, stock, bay leaf, thyme: Add the chopped potatoes, the stock, bay leaf and thyme. If using unsalted or low sodium stock, add a teaspoon of salt. Bring to a simmer and simmer for 5 minutes.
4. Chop blanched nettles, add to soup pot, add water, simmer: Roughly chop up the blanched nettles. Add 3-4 cups of the chopped blanched nettles to the pot, and enough water to just cover the nettles and potatoes, 1-2 cups. Return to a simmer and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft and the nettles tender.
5. Puree the soup: Remove the bay leaves (and thyme sprigs if using) from the pot. Using an immersion blender or working in batches with a standing blender, puree. Return to the pot and take off the heat.
6. Adjust seasonings, add lemon juice, add cream: Add salt to taste. Depending on the saltiness of the stock you’re using, you may need to add at least a teaspoon or more to the soup. Add ½ a teaspoon of pepper. Add the lemon juice. Right before you serve, swirl in the cream.