We were planting out onion sets in the garden this morning on a newly dug and composted spot.
It turned out that we had more onions than composted spot and the mission expanded to building a new compost frame so that we could move the top of the next compost and then we could access the prized gold underneath. We – being myself and the Woofas – managed to build the new construction and then we set about putting lots of twiggy bits down the bottom so that air can circulate. First of all we tidied up all the bits under the trees looking for suitable twigs then we spotted the fennel plantation in the chicken run. There were some prize twiggy bits there so we moved in and what did we discover? Lots of new nettles. Yum! What a treat, and funnily enough the chickens are not the least bit interested in these.
We picked the young tops from the nettles and I totally diverted from compost heap building and cooked soup for lunch
nettle tops – 1 litre jug full
1 onion- peeled and chopped
25g butter or 25mls olive oil
2 stems celery- finely chopped
1-2 potatoes- peeled and diced
a handful of spinach
salt and pepper
about 600mls vegetable stock
creme fraiche or cream to serve
Melt the butter in a sauce pan or add the oil. Stir in the chopped onions and celery. When they start to sweat and melt down add the chopped potatoes and a little salt. Cook gently for about ten minutes. Tip the nettles into a large bowl of water and gently sort them out. They won’t sting you if you don’t grab them. Put them into a colander to drain. Give the colander a good shake then stir the nettles into the other vegetables. Cook for a few minutes on a fairly high heat until the nettle tops have wilted. Wash and shred the spinach and stir in. Cook until it wilts then add about 600mls vegetable stock and bring everything to the boil. Cook for 4-5 minutes then buzz and season. Serve with a swirl of cream or creme fraiche.
It’s good to gently cook the potatoes, it gives better flavour but don’t overcook the soup once the nettle tops are in otherwise the soup might end up looking like Gollum juice.