I sat back and had a think. What would make Earth Day memorable? What would make children remember this day from 5000 plus they have in their childhood? The answer came from my son. The one activity he has never forgotten was making nettle soup as a 4 yr old in my nursery.
Now is the time of year for making nettle soup. Young fresh leaves need to be harvested when the shoots are no more than a few inches high. Within a month or so, the leaves will become much coarser, unpleasantly bitter and possible have a laxative effect. This is indeed a spring time soup.
What you need:
Children – any age
Gloves for everyone – ones with no holes in. Gardening gloves work well
A big handful of nettles leaves – urtica dioica
Butter or margarine – a blob
Onion – one per 4 servings, chopped
Small potato – one per 4 servings, chopped
Vegetable stock – about a pint or more if you like thin soup
Salt or other seasoning to taste
At this time of year, you may have to search in between other plants such as ground elder to find the young nettles
What to do:
1) Put on the gloves and pick some nettle leaves. You need a big handful. Do not gather from roadsides or places where pollution or chemicals may affect the nettles.
2) Remove the stems and wash well.
3) Put the butter in a pan and add the wet washed nettles. Put on the lid. It’s a little like preparing spinach.
4) Add the chopped onion and cook for about 5 minutes on a medium-low heat.
5) Add the potato and the vegetable stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 20 minutes
6) Add the seasoning and blend thoroughly. The purists may wish to sieve the soup too.
7) Gently reheat and serve with homemade crusty bread.
The novelty of picking stinging nettles and turning them into food is an act of fascination and intrigue to children. It requires a certain amount of bravery to pick the nettles and eat them too, so the satisfaction levels are high!
MJ and I will make nettle soup this week…in memory of Earth Day and Youth.