Spring Tonic Soup from Healthy Green Kitchen

Last Sunday, I went to the first in a series of classes I am taking on identifying and using edible wild plants. It was fantastic- so fun to be outside on a lovely day, refreshing my memory about some plants that I am already familiar with, but learning many new things, as well.

Do you know about Stinging Nettle?

Nettles from Healthy Green Kitchen

My friend Halyna, the teacher of my wild plants class, grows a ton of it. I am going to follow her lead and plant a big patch because while it does grow wild, I have never found any on my property (though I am going to keep looking). Nettle is an incredible plant, rich in vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. Nettle is particularly high in calcium, magnesium, chromium, and chlorophyll, and herbalist Susun Weed refers to nettle leaves and stalks as an “everyday nourisher”. Nettle is a notable ally to the kidneys, the digestive system, the respiratory system, and women’s reproductive health. It’s also amazing for the skin and for the hair.

Since it’s covered in prickly hairs that sting due to the presence of formic acid (hence the name: Stinging Nettle), you should always wear protective clothing and gloves when you harvest nettle. Once dried or cooked, nettle no longer stings.

I took home a bunch of nettle from Halyna’s house and decided to cook up a spring tonic soup after tasting the amazing one she had made and served to our class. I added dandelion greens that I plucked from my yard (these are also extremely nutritious: they’re high in beta-carotene, vitamin C, calcium, and potassium), as well as some ramps I bought at the Farmer’s Market. This soup is flexible: if you don’t have access to wild greens, use kale, spinach or another green instead. And if you have access to additional wild greens, like yellow dock, feel free to toss some in.

This is a perfect introduction to wild foods if you are not familiar with them: the greens are not at all bitter when prepared this way so the whole family can enjoy this soup. Feel free to sub in carrots and a different squash (or sweet/red/white potatoes) for the turnips and kabocha squash, if you like.

I ate this soup with my favorite multi-grain bread, slathered with goat cheese and topped with wild violets. Yup, you can eat violets, too: if you’ve got lots of them popping up on your lawn, you can give this recipe for violet jelly a try.

Recipe for Spring Tonic Soup

Yield: 8 cups/serves 4

This is a wonderful introduction to the world of wild foods. Make sure to use nettles harvested early in the spring, before they flower. Dandelion greens are best when they are "young", as well.

Ingredients:

*2 cups chopped fresh nettle tops
*1 1/2 cups chopped fresh dandelion greens
*1/2 cup chopped ramps
*2 cups water
*1 large onion, chopped
*2 tablespoons olive oil
*2 turnips, chopped (about 1 cup), or use 2-3 chopped carrots
*approximately 2 cups chopped kabocha squash, or use a different winter squash, or chopped sweet, red, or white potatoes
*6 cups water
*Miso to taste (optional)

Directions:

1. Wash and chop greens. Simmer in 2 cups water (or as much as you need to cover them) until very tender (about 15 minutes).

2. Saute onion in olive oil over medium heat until golden. Add the onion, along with the ramps, turnips and squash, to the nettles and dandelion greens. Add 6 cups water and simmer for 30 minutes until vegetables are very tender.

3. Turn off water and stir in miso to taste (I used about 2 tablespoons of a sweet white miso, but you can use any type of miso, and you may like this with a little more) right before serving.

Adapted from Healing Wise (Wise Woman Herbal Series) by Susun Weed.

Spring Tonic Soup from Healthy Green Kitchen

 

11 Comments

  1. 1

    april hellobee contributions | punctuated with food — May 2, 2013 @ 9:14 pm

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  2. 2

    wendy — May 3, 2013 @ 9:20 am

    Careful about planting nettles on your property! I did this once, for the same reasons that you are considering. I love nettles–they are delicious and make such a nice tonic tea. But they literally took over my garden and grew ferociously. I spent a lot of time every spring/summer trying to keep them in check.
    Thanks for this nice article!

  3. 3

    Jamie-Lee — May 3, 2013 @ 3:28 pm

    This is amazing! I love food sourced naturally. Great idea to use them here I will be looking out for some nettle in the near future :)

    Jamie-Lee | Orangen’t You Lovely | Food, Diet, Health, Fitness

  4. 4

    elizabeth — May 3, 2013 @ 6:33 pm

    We have it coming up everywhere this year, although it is Autumn here in Aus.

  5. 5

    Sonnet — May 5, 2013 @ 1:16 am

    I’ve heard that stinging nettle is edible so it’s very exciting to see it in a recipe. I’ll have to keep an eye out for some to try! Thanks for introducing me to this!

  6. 6

    Sergio Anacleto — May 5, 2013 @ 6:56 am

    thanks for the intro on stinging nettle. I had no idea it was edible. If its natural then I’m willing to give it a try. Thanks again

  7. 7

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  9. 9

    Irina @ wandercrush — May 11, 2013 @ 5:09 pm

    Sounds amazing and rejuvenating. What a good way to use up Spring greens! I’ve been wanting to take a proper foraging course for so long now… I guess Spring would be the time to do it!

  10. 10

    Cornell Lesko — June 8, 2013 @ 8:55 pm

    ß-Carotene is a strongly-colored red-orange pigment abundant in plants and fruits. It is an organic compound and chemically is classified as a hydrocarbon and specifically as a terpenoid (isoprenoid), reflecting its derivation from isoprene units. ß-Carotene is biosynthesized from geranylgeranyl pyrophosphate.’–,

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  11. 11

    Breanna Knotek — June 16, 2013 @ 3:37 am

    Chlorophyll molecules are specifically arranged in and around photosystems that are embedded in the thylakoid membranes of chloroplasts. In these complexes, chlorophyll serves two primary functions. The function of the vast majority of chlorophyll (up to several hundred molecules per photosystem) is to absorb light and transfer that light energy by resonance energy transfer to a specific chlorophyll pair in the reaction center of the photosystems.’.^,

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