Nettle Soup and Wild Garlic Soda Bread
Finally Winter is over! Long evenings and a slight rise in temperatures signal early Summer. Its time to get outdoors again and with this lovely light lunch recipe, you will definitely be bringing the outdoors inside. Foraging in the woods or fields is a really lovely way to spend an afternoon, or even an evening after work or school.
I spent a vast part of my childhood playing outside and getting repeatedly stung by nettles. I suppose, the idea of eating them always feels like revenge for me. But what I didn’t realise was just how good they are for you when eaten. Nettles are full of iron, potassium and vitamins A & C. They are good for purifying blood, relieving water retention and also having a positive effect on the lungs, skin and kidneys. Why wouldn’t you eat them?
I spent a sunny Saturday walking in Killeagh woods in east Cork armed with marigold gloves and a plastic shopping bag (yes, I got a few funny looks). But I happily came home with plenty of new nettles and flowering wild garlic to make a tasty supper.
Late April and early May is the time for wild garlic but you can keep picking nettles right through the summer, just make sure to pick the younger tops as the months go by.
Wild garlic works really well in salads and the flowers make a pretty garnish. I also have a recipe for nettle pesto which works really well on meat or pasta, or even in a sandwich. Check it out here … http://www.loveirishfood.ie/recipes/nettle-pesto-by-simplee-2/
1 plastic bag of nettles, washed and tough stalks removed
1 large onion finely chopped
5 or 6 wild garlic leaves finely chopped / 1 clove garlic chopped
1 litre of good quality vegetable stock (I recommend Pure Brazen)
1 large potato, peeled and finely diced
2 oz butter
Plenty of Simplee fresh herb sea salt and pepper
Optional: fresh cream or crème fraiche
Using a sturdy pot, sweat the onions until translucent in butter. This will take about 5 minutes
Add the potatoes, garlic and nettles. Pour in the stock and season well.
Bring to the boil and simmer for about 25 minutes.
When the vegetables are cooked, take off the heat and liquidise with a blender.
Serve while warm with a swirl of fresh cream or crème fraiche
Wild Garlic Soda Bread
6 garlic leaves
10oz wholemeal flour
6oz plain flour
1tsp baking soda
Half to three quarters pint buttermilk
Simplee Fresh Herb Salt
Preheat oven to 220 degrees
Sieve plain and wholemeal flour and also baking soda into a large bowl.
Add 6-7 twists of Simplee Fresh Herb Sea Salt and also the chopped wild garlic leaves.
Pour in half a pint of buttermilk and mix quickly and lightly with your hand. (The trick to good soda bread is touching the mixture as little and as lightly as possible) If you need more buttermilk, add it now.
When the mixture has come together and is slightly wet looking, pop onto a floured work surface.
Lightly shape into a round shape and cut a deep cross in the bread. Transfer to a floured flat baking tray and bake for 30-35 minutes. You will know the bread is cooked when the base makes a hollow sound when tapped.
This is delicious with lots of butter melting on top.