Nettle Bisque and Herbal Tea
One of the very best foraging greens is the stinging nettle. If you consider yourself a foodie you have to try this ingredient. It has a very unique essence, and unique in a good way. Its culinary use fits in somewhere between a salad green and an herb. Nettle has been used for years as a medicinal for a variety of ailments but in the Northwest it is commonly used for seasonal (Spring) allergies. This soup is scrumptious and the tea is, well….let’s just say it’s a therapeutic remedy.
Nettle is one of the most abundant and far reaching foraging foods and large amounts can be gathered without any future impact on the plant. To pick nettle it is best to wear gloves because, as the name implies, the plant can sting you. The top leaves of the plant are the freshest and I like to take the first 4-6 leaves. Once you identify this plant the first time you will never forget it as it is very distinctive and it is available throughout the Spring. The sting will deactivate once cooked or dried. The first person to try nettle must have been brave, or crazy.
We found ours at Kelley Point Park in North Portland. There is enough for everyone, so go get some!
2 large handfuls nettle leaves (about 1 cup chopped)
2 celery stalks
2 garlic cloves
2 cups garden stock or other stock
1 tbsp clarified butter (ghee)
radish or chives (garnish)
Add butter to small pot at med-high heat. Mince onion and add to pot with 2 whole garlic cloves and let sit until onion has a little color. Meanwhile chop carrot and celery, then add to pot with 2 large pinches of salt. Let cook for a few minutes more. Stack nettle leaves on top of each other and slice them width wise into strips. Add stock and nettles to pot, turn heat to high. When soup begins to boil reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and puree. An immersion blender works best, otherwise add soup to blender. Pour into bowls and garnish with something or another. I used radish because it is the only vegetable ready in my garden right now, chives or parsley are other good options. Makes 4 small first course portions.
1 handful fresh nettle leaves or 1 tbsp dry
2 cups water
raw honey (optional)
Nettle Tea is used worldwide for a variety of reasons but I am most familiar with its use as relief for seasonal asthma and allergies. Nettle may help reduce the amount of histamine produced by the body in response to an allergen. I don’t have allergies myself but I hear good things. Drink a cup to abate acute allergy symptoms in spring hopefully will do the trick. There are two options, the first is to use fresh nettle leaves. Add 2 cups of water and 1 large handful of fresh leaves to a small pot, bring to a boil. Once a boil is reached, turn off heat and cover for 20 minutes, leaving pot on burner. To dry leaves just add to a paper bag and let sit for a week, then crush leaves with hands. This is the best way to stock up and have tea for the entire season. To make dry tea simply add 1 tbsp dry crushed nettle leaf to tea ball and steep in hot water. Stir in honey if desired. ( Local Raw Honey is also known to help seasonal allergies).