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Nettle soup

Nettle soup is probably what most people first think of when they consider cooking on the wild side, so I could hardly leave it out. The keys to an excellent nettle soup are potato - to give it body - and really good stock - to give it spirit. Without these the wild food cynic's worst suspicions of boiled weeds will be confirmed. Note that a reusable carrier bag or basket is the standard measure for nettles.


Wearing rubber gloves, sort through the nettles, discarding anything you don't like the look of and any thick stalks. Wash the nettles and drain in a colander.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan, add the onion and cook gently for 5-7 minutes until softened.

Add the stock, nettles, potato and carrot. Bring to a simmer and cook gently until the potato is soft, about 15 minutes.

Remove from the heat. Using an electric hand-held stick blender, purée the soup and then season with salt and pepper to taste.

Ladle into warmed bowls and float a teaspoonful of creme fraiche on top. As this melts, swirl in a few drops of extra-virgin olive oil and Tabasco.

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Half a basket of stinging nettle tops, or fresh-looking larger leaves

50g butter

1 large onion (or a dozen crow garlic bulbs if you want to be truly wild), peeled and finely chopped

1 litre vegetable or chicken stock, or even light fish stock

1 large potato, peeled and cut into cubes

1 large carrot, peeled and chopped

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tbsp crème fraîche

A few drops of extra-virgin olive oil

A few drops of Tabasco

This recipe is taken from...

River Cottage Hedgerow Handbook