Last week at the Ferry Building Farmer's Market, we picked a bag of fresh stinging nettles. Nettles have a short growing season - they're only available for a brief period in the spring, so they aren't something we get to enjoy often. Some consider nettles a nuisance in the garden since they sting the skin at the slightest touch, but what most people don't know is that nettles are a wonderful delicacy.
Remember to use tongs or wear gloves while handling raw nettles. The sting is very unpleasant!
Our friend, Chef Geoffrey Ludwig of Spruce Restaurant in San Francisco shared with us this nettle soup recipe that's quite easy to make and is especially delicious.
1 lb. fresh nettles
1/2 lb. russet potatoes, diced
1 leek, white part only
3 1/4 tsp butter
1 3/4 cup water
1/3 cup cream
To make the potato soup:
In small pan, add the butter and sweat leeks until soft. Add potato and water, and cook until soft (falling apart). Use blender and pass through a strainer. Return to pan. Add cream. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Return to blender. Strain again. Chill.
Blanch the raw nettles (leaf and thin stems only) until tender. Blend in a mixer until smooth. Pass through fine strainer. Chill.
Combine potato soup and chilled nettle puree. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Heat and thin with water or cream if necessary.
(Image: Kathryn Hill)