It had to happen. Sometime during this boaty holiday, while the foraging Siren had me in her grip, it was bound to occur. Call it destiny. Call it fate. Call it madness. Call it what you will. Sooner or later the inexorable pull was certain to draw me in and the inevitable consequences would follow.
This morning I woke, at the BW facilities at Camp Hill, next to the most magnificent patch of nettles I have seen in a long time! They were a joy to behold. Well, from a safe distance or appropriately attired that is. Their tall heads nodded gently in the breeze. Their flowers waved beatifically. One could be forgiven for forgetting that they sting at all.
So, what to do? Those who know me, know there is only one course of action I could possibly take. Soup. Nettle soup. The Captain was more than a little sceptical. He eyed my gloved hands sorting through the mound of tops with great suspicion. But a little butter, some onion and some veggies and we were left with a very delicious lunch.
1/3 carrier bag full of nettles, tops or young leaves
Knob of butter
1 medium onion, finely sliced
1 large carrot, chopped
2 sticks celery, chopped
1 large potato, diced
1 large garlic clove, crushed
500-750 ml chicken stock
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Good dollop of crème fraîche plus extra for garnish
salt & pepper
Garnish: fresh chives, parsley
Using gloves, pick over nettles and wash thoroughly. Discard tough outer stalks.
Melt butter in a large pan and sweat the onion, carrot, celery and garlic till soft but not brown. Add the potato and cook till edges soften. Add stock and pile in the nettles. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5-10mins, until tender. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.
Purée the soup. Return to clean pan, heat through without boiling. Check seasoning, serve. Garnish with swirl of crème fraîche and a generous sprinkling of chopped herbs.