Following the success of my dandelion salad, I thought I'd continue my "backyard forage" experiments with nettle soup.
I've made nettle soap before, and it was a great success. So I already knew that it only takes a little bit of heat to disarm the stings. There's no danger at all that your lunch will sting your mouth, as long as it is well-cooked. I collected a dish of nettles from my back garden, wearing rubber gloves, and added them to some potato soup. It tasted lovely - not strong, but just delicately "green". Perhaps a little bit like spinach.
I'll definitely make it again. It's delicious hot, but its delicate flavour also tastes good chilled and thinned out with a little cold milk, like Vichyssoise. If nothing else, it's a welcome change from sodding cabbage.
Peel a couple of floury potatoes, dice, and simmer in half a pint of duck stock (if you don't have duck stock you'll have to use a chicken or vegetarian stock cube) and half a pint of milk. Whilst it's boiling, go outside and collect a breakfast bowl full of nettle tops - the top 4-6 young leaves of each plant. Give them a rinse and pick out any "extras", then add them whole to the potatoes. When the potatoes are tender, whizz it all up with a stick blender. Stir in plenty of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, and serve with a swirl of home-made yogurt (or cream, or creme fraiche, or whatever you've got).