One of the best herb sources of iron is nettle. When cooked with potatoes and zucchini the healthy and nutritious nettle soup is born.
Have you ever eaten a nettle? If not, you better try this wild herb that plays a key role in the healthy supply of iron. Moreover, the beginning of spring is the best time to harvest the young green leaves of nettle right before they grow tall and start flowering.
In the autumn, I like to harvest the nettle seeds and nettle roots as their medicinal benefits are fabulous.
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Why bother with stinging nettle?
Nettle (Urtica dioica) belong to the category of plants that people don’t like to see in their garden. Its stinging power and overall appearance make people avoid any contact with nettle or get rid of it to prevent any stinging accident. I hope that after reading this article you will reconsider.
Despite its first impression, stinging nettle is packed with nutrients and vitamins that its other herbal friends can only envy.
Healthy benefits of nettle
Nettle also contains a significant amount of iron and may also help you with iron deficiency. Known as a blood cleanser and blood building herb, nettle can help your body get back to its form.
Iron deficiency and nettle
The most common cause of iron deficiency is its lack in food. Sometimes we make a mistake when we consume dishes that decrease absorption of iron. Nettle is an ideal herb that contains a high amount of vitamin C that enables the body to absorb a large amount of iron.
If you eat food rich in iron don’t forget to add some orange or lemon peel when boiling. The vitamin C helps absorb the iron. On the contrary eggs or bran reduce the absorption of iron so try to avoid them when eating iron-rich food.
I like to eat nettle in smoothies or in pesto. Nettle tea is also delicious and easy to make. But when I made this nutrient-dense nettle soup I thought that this is my favourite dish with nettle.
I also made it for my parents when they came to visit and they were pleasantly surprised with its taste. They eat wild herbs very rarely and when I came home with a basket full of nettle my mom raised her eyebrow if I have any hidden chickens in the backyard to feed them with. I said no, it is for us.
low in calories, zucchini contains various minerals and vitamins, in particular, high in vitamin A.
Rich in fibre and water, zucchini promote healthy digestion and reduces the risk of constipation.
warming and nutritious potatoes are perfect in our soup as they give it body. In addition, they are easy to puree with nettle and zucchini to make a smooth and rich texture.
Garlic reduces blood pressure, improves cholesterol level and possesses anti-inflammatory properties. It belongs to every dish and gives the nettle soup its distinctive flavour.
I like to buy organic that is free of pesticides and GMO's. I also check that is free of MSG, natural flavourings or dehydrated vegetable.
How to make an excellent nettle soup that will have a body and a taste?
This stinging nettle soup is a healthy and nutritious puree made of nettles, potatoes and zucchini. Its bright green colour and deliciously nutty taste remind us of the beginning of spring.
While in the fall I like to warm up with this delicious Hungarian Mushroom soup, my husband's family favorite recipe.
Harvest the nettles
We will use the top three pairs of leaves for our recipe.
Grab your rubber gloves and find a place that is safe from dogs or other animal excrements. Your garden is the best place. Use scissors to cut 5-6 stalks with leaves. Keep the rubbers for later when you handling the nettles at home because before cooked they sting. Remember they are harvestable for only a short period of time (about 1 month) so take an advantage and pick more so you can use them later when dry or frozen.
I foraged for the nettle but you can also occasionally find it at farmers markets or upscale grocery stores.
With your rubber gloves still on wash the nettles thoroughly and drain in a colander
Peel off and cut the potatoes into small cubes as well as zucchini.
Take a medium-size casserole, place potatoes, zucchini, 1 garlic clove and nettles (still use gloves!) into a casserole.
Pour over the vegetable stock and bring to a simmer. Cook until the potatoes are soft, approximately 15 minutes.
Remove from the heat. Use a high-speed blender to puree the soup. Season with salt and pepper as per your taste
You can serve this nettle soup with:
- Roasted sunflower seeds
- Wild plants - red clover, violets, daisy
- Fried onion
- Sour cream or cream
- a drizzle of olive oil and freshly grated cheese
The season of young nettles is short so to prolong it I either dry the nettles or freeze them in a ziplock bag. The texture will slightly change their content of iron however the nutrients remains the same and I can still use them in soups or smoothies. Freezing the soup in a ziplock bag is also an alternative that will increase its shelflife for up to 3 months. I suggest labelling with the date so you can keep a track of it when it will expire.
If you like the taste of spinach or arugula you will like the taste of nettle soup. It has a mild, slightly nutty flavour with a bit of peppery bite.