Do you walk through the streets in your town and, like me, wonder whether you should pick the fruits that, for such a short period of time in this luscious land, are thrown forth? Are we allowed to do this? Cherries, blackberries, elderflowers, and then later apples, pears, walnuts… Such abundance can be found without actually having to go out into the ‘wild’. And that doesn’t just go for the obvious fruits, flowers and nuts we see hanging around, there are a lot of unsuspecting herbs and leaves that are also edible, and dang delicious with that. I’m talking in particular about your old childhood nemesis, the stinging nettle. Once inspiring feelings of detraction and pain, and if encountered, leading to a mad dash for the dock leaf patch, this plant seriously needs a reimagining. At a glance the leaves look like they have teeth, biting, sharp. But on closer inspection they are heart shaped, and look furry and inviting. Now I am not suggesting nestling down in a bed of nettles, not unless you are in need of some serious purging. However, grab some gloves, find your nearest cluster of nettles, and chop off a few of the young leaves. These little babes are packed full of iron, and their Vitamin C content allows the body to easily absorb this. My grandmother, coming from a line of herbalists, used to swear by nettle tea and it’s benefits.
I took to my driveway yesterday and gleaned a few little leaves (make sure when you urban forage you give your treasure a good washing down). I then went and made a nettle and broccoli soup, and because it is so gorgeously hot and sunny right now I let it cool off after cooking and allowed it to become a Gazpacho. Era muy delicioso! And the colour is glaringly, gorgeously green.
Nettle & Broccoli Gazpacho
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
5-6 Jersey royal potatoes
1l veg stock
200g Tenderstem/purple sproating broccoli
salt & pfeffer
Add your oil to a heavy bottomed pan and, once hot, add your shallots, leek and potatoes, all chopped finely. Sweat down for around 10 minutes, not allowing them to turn brown. Once nice and sweaty, add the stock and simmer for 10 more minutes, until the potato is squishy. For the last couple of momentos, add the nettles and broc and boil until tender. Turn off the heat, squeeze ya lemons and pinch in salt and pep to taste. Indulge either hot or cold.