Sunday, April 21, 2013
Spring Nettle and Leek Soup
Here I must tell tale of a dinner with friends Friday evening which included a spring nettle soup bountiful enough to feed five hungry adults, one hungry toddler, and enough leftovers to bring us into the beginning of the week.
The paper bag which I filled with fresh nettle to make the soup was a mere fraction of what I could have harvested, had I wanted to also then bathe in creamy nettle soup post dinner party. And her mention of finding the random morel mushroom lacked the stories of seasoned morel hunters. I have known individuals who would gather up to seventy pounds in one season, taking the location of such harvests with them to the grave.
Although wild food does nourish an under appreciated aspect of the palate by "seasoning" our plates with the less familiar, certain harvests can easily feed a hungry crowd while connecting us with something heady and grand.
The world of wild things should never be underestimated.
Spring Nettle and Leek Soup:
*aprox 14 cups (or 1 paper grocery bag 3/4 filled) fresh young nettle shoots
*5 tablespoons quality unsalted butter
*2 large leeks, rinsed well, chopped (white and light green portions only)
*5 garlic cloves, minced
*2 celery stalks, chopped
*6 cups quality chicken broth
*1 cup quality cream (optional but recommended)
*plain whole yogurt for garnish
Prepare a large bowl filled with ice water. Set aside.
Bring a large soup pot filled with water to a boil over high heat. Place fresh nettles in boiling water and stir gently. Blanch for 2 minutes. Remove nettles with a slotted spoon or tongs and plunge into ice water.
Discard blanch water and return empty pot to stovetop reducing heat to medium. Melt butter in pot. Stir in the leeks, garlic and celery. Season with sea salt and pepper. Saute until tender, about 4 minutes.
Drain ice water from nettles and squeeze out any excess water. Chop nettles and place in pot. Saute briefly. Add chicken broth. Bring to a gentle boil, then reduce heat to low. Simmer for about 30 minutes. Cool slightly.
Blend contents of pot with an immersion blender or place in food processor fitted with a blade and puree in batches until very smooth. Return pureed nettle mixture to soup pot and adjust seasonings. Stir in cream and rewarm over medium-low heat.
Serve hot with a dollop of yogurt and an additional sprinkle of course sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.