Today is Earth Day, and what better way to celebrate it than getting out in nature? It’s gorgeous and sunny here in Seattle . . . why not forage for some nettles?
What I refer to in my head as “Nettle Season” runs until the end of April, and since I am staying with my parents, I am going to go out on their hillside overlooking Puget Sound and harvest a few bags of nettles to bring back with me to Vancouver.
Note: If you don’t want to cook with your nettles right now, you can blanch them in boiling hot water, drain them (save the water for a nutritious and cleansing nettle tea!), put them in a freezer-proof container and, well, freeze them for future use. It’s like having frozen spinach in your freezer, except earthier.
As I mentioned in a blog post about a week ago (time goes so fast, doesn’t it?), I did a little research on some nurturing, nourishing, gluten-free and vegan approaches to recipes using nettles for my DOS with the EBWINTMENIHMB. I found a few recipes and sort of combined them– one recipe suggested blanching the nettles to ensure a bright, vibrant green color, while the other seemed more easily adaptable to the elimination diet for the Clean Program (and used an approach that I thought would build the flavors of the soup better.)
I’ve posted my recipe below.
I would also recommend checking out this Clean recipe for a vegan, vegetarian, gluten free lasagna. I know it SOUNDS like such a thing cannot be good, but I was hooked. Not to go off on too much of a tangent, but
a) it was the prettiest dish I think I’ve ever made (I’m saving the pictures for my blog posting)
b) while I was skeptical of my cashew-cheese making capabilities, all you need is a high speed blender. And it IS DELICIOUS. Seriously. Like Amen, thank you so much Lord Jesus for bringing this wonderful food stuff into my life delicious.
So blog entry forthcoming on that recipe!
For now, a luxuriant, simple, CLEAN, energizing nettle soup.
“I’m full,” the EBWINTMENIHMB remarked with genuine surprise after his first bowl. To be sure, we ate a beautiful salad with fresh greens, avocado, radishes, and the “The Jam/Truthful Ginger Carrot Dressing” as a first course, and I served the soup with quinoa flatbreads dotted with poppyseeds, but there was something just so thick and creamy and delicious about the soup.
Satiating, you might say (write?)
So I had another course planned, but we decided to save that one for a rainy day. And, as I mentioned on my previous blog post about the Vanilla-Coconut Vice Cream, we didn’t even eat dessert that night (well, not in a literal sense. Figurative dessert was consumed.)
My only sadness is that, when I served this soup to the EBWINTMENIHMB I forgot to garnish it with the tiny little purple violets I had purchased at Neighbors. So I was sure to adorn the leftovers that I ate for my dinner the next evening.
1/2 pound of stinging nettles
2 T of unrefined olive oil
1 yellow onion
2 small leeks
2 stalks of celery
1 clove of garlic
2 T brown basmati rice
1 carton Imagine No Chicken Broth
sea salt and freshly cracked pepper
Bring a large pot of water to boil while you wash and chop your mirepoix: peel and roughly chop the onion (you’re going to be pureeing the soup, so if your pieces are a bit big and/or ungainly, don’t fret); free the pure white part of the leek from its root and the dark green leaves and slice it into rings; chop the celery into little half moons, peel and chop the clove of garlic (those thin purpley skins are pesky, eh? Clinging to your fingers like that . . .)
Now here is how I would do it– only because I don’t have a dishwasher and I like to use as few dishes as possible when I’m making a dinner of seduction. You COULD start sweating the veggies in a separate pot– heat the oil, toss them in, give them a good swish so they are covered in oil, and then cover them for ten minutes as they soften and release water and in general get all happy and married to each other.
But here is how I would do it. Put a colander in your sink. Do this BEFORE you blanch the nettles, as it will all go quick. Don’t get nervous, just do the next thing. Grab the colander, put it in the sink . . .
When your water boils, stir in your nettles (I’d use tongs to be sure you don’t get stung.) As they wilt, they will turn bright green– so pretty! This will take 30 seconds, one minute tops. Take the pot off the stove (carefully, carefully) and pour the boiling water into your colander.
Do this SLOWLY, with control, so that hot water doesn’t splash all over and burn you. Ok? SLOWLY. CAREFULLY. Haste makes waste, as they say. Or nasty burns.
Then run cold water over the nettles to stop the nettles from cooking.
Let them sit there while you put your pot back on the stove: heat the oil, toss in your mirepoix (onion, celery, leek, garlic), cover and let it sweat.
Meanwhile, return to your leeks. By now they should be cool enough to touch. Squeeze them– really wring them out. They will have lost their sting and you’ll be fine, so be brave and grab those suckers.
After your mirepoix of onion, celery, leek, and garlic has sweated it out for ten minutes, add the rice and the stock. Bring to a simmer and cook for ten minutes. Then add your nettles. Season with salt and pepper.
You now have a choice: Puree the soup in two batches, OR use your immersion blender. I use a (relatively) cheap immersion blender, because it is easier to wash then my Vitamixer. But whatever will work: your blender, your food processor, your immersion blender, your Vitamixer.
Reheat the soup and serve with violets, if you’re vegan and you live in Vancouver.
OR if you are a plain old vegetarian, you could use greek yoghurt or sour cream, topped with a sprinkling of freshly chopped chives.