Spring Green Soup

Leaf Shadow

Nettles and chickweed make for a tasty wild-foraged soup.

1/3 pound freshly harvested nettles, washed (use gloves!)
Handful of freshly harvested chickweed, washed
2-3 small cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 small yellow potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 1/2 cups vegetable stock or water
2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoons black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons butter
1 finely minced, dried baby shitake mushroom (optional)

In large pot, melt butter and add onions. Saute 5 minutes or until golden. Add potatoes and garlic, sauté 1-2 minutes. Add stock, milk, mushroom, greens, salt and pepper. Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until potatoes are soft. Blend until smooth.

We thank Greg Atkinson for this recipe.

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Wild Salad Greens

These nutritious greens are ones you might enjoy picking and tossing into raw salads: chickweed, miner’s lettuce, purslane, oxeye daisy, lambsquarters, sheep sorrel, field mustards, and hairy bittercress. Finding the herb and nibbling on a leaf will give you the best idea of how to incorporate it into salads, soups, stews, sandwich fillings, etc. Each one has in individual texture and taste that is unique to its being. The chickweed and miner’s lettuce are more delicate in flavor; the purslane and sheep sorrel tend towards the bitter side; the oxeye daisy, field mustards and hairy bittercress are more peppery and the lambsquarters has a deeper flavor. You can also use the young lambsquarters as you would nettles. It makes a delicious steamed veggie.

Chickweed (Stellaria) for the Kitchen

Chickweed makes a tender wild salad green.

Miners Lettuce, Chabot Regional Park

Miner’s lettuce also grows wild and is a tender salad green.

Margariten auf dem Balkon bei Nacht, Daisys on the balcony at night

Oxeye daisies are edible, too.

 

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Chickweed Pesto (and Other Chickweed Recipe Ideas)

Chickweed (Stellaria) for the Kitchen

Chickweed isn’t just a weed — it’s a tasty, tender green that belongs in your kitchen.

Chickweed Pesto
1 1/2 cups chickweed
1 1/2 cups basil leaves
3-4 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup melted butter

Puree everything together in a food processor until it forms a paste. Store in glass jars in the refrigerator or freeze. I store (and freeze) mine in small pickled artichoke jars. Substitute for pesto in any recipe or add as a complement to veggie dishes, pasta, egg dishes, etc.

Bonus: More Chickweed Ideas
I freely add chopped chickweed and its slender stems in soups, stews or hot veggie dishes. Fresh, raw chickweed tips are great in salads or as a lettuce substitute in sandwiches.

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Chickweed Parsnip Soup

Chickweed (Stellaria) for the Kitchen

As we head into springtime, chickweed is a tender and tasty source of greens.

1/2 stick unsalted butter or 3 ounces olive oil
5 medium parsnips, diced
1 large leek, diced
4 cups vegetable stock
2 apples, peeled and diced
1/2 cup heavy cream or whole milk
4 cups chickweed
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste

Blanch half the chickweed for about 5 seconds in boiling water and shock in an icebath. Reserve.

Melt butter in a large pot. Saute onions and parsnips until onions are translucent. Cover with stock and apples. Simmer until parsnips are tender, about 15 minutes. Take about 1/2 the mixture out of the pot and blend in a blender with blanched half of chickweed until smooth. Return to pot and add cream and nutmeg. Add the rest of the chickweed and take off heat when it wilts. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

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Six Nettle Recipes

nettles

Young nettles are easily blanched and frozen to enjoy year round. They are easy to dry as well for healthy herbal teas.

Farmer’s Nettle Frittata
Saute red onions, mushrooms in season, grated carrot, finely sliced broccoli spears and minced chickweed together in olive oil until wilted. Add a handful of minced young nettle stalk and leaves on top, cover and let steam until nettles wilt. Meanwhile, prepare a mixture of eggs, minced parsley and dried basil. Stir well and pour it over the steaming veggies. Place a cover on the pan, wait until eggs set, then flip until done. Delicious as is or with salsa or chickweed pesto.

Leek, Chickweed and Nettle Soup
Saute chopped leeks, celery and crushed garlic cloves in olive oil until soft; add diced potatoes (I use russets or Yukon golds). Add minced chickweed, nettles, parsley, dried basil, turmeric, salt and perhaps a bit more oil or butter. Saute a few minutes more, mixing all the ingredients well to blend the flavors. Cover with stock or water and simmer until everything is tender. Other veggies can be added, such as tomatoes, grated carrots, or perhaps a tin of salmon added at the end for even more variety. Unlike most leek and potato soup recipes, I do not use milk or cream as an ingredient, nor do I find a need to puree if the ingredients are diced small enough, as everything seems to meld together just fine.

Nettle Lasagna
Any spinach lasagna recipe will do for nettle lasagna with the obvious substitution of sauteed or steamed young nettles. If you make your own noodles, toss a spoonful of dried nettle powder into your flour mixture for added nutrition or into your homemade tomato sauce.

Nettle Quiche
Again, there are countless recipes for making quiches. My favorite is from The Enchanted Broccoli Forest by Mollie Katzen. Since I make my own crusts, sometimes I’ll throw in a tablespoon of dried nettle powder with my flours. For the filling, I use a large handful of chopped and steamed nettles, along with sauteed onions, mushrooms in season, chopped broccoli, and an assortment of fresh and dried herbs laid on a bed of feta and shredded raw cheddar cheeses. Over that goes an egg-and-milk mixture to which I might mix in an additional tablespoon of flour depending on how moist my ingredients are.

Nettle Greens Medley
Saute slivers of red onion and garlic in olive oil or coconut oil until translucent. Add equal amounts of chopped Swiss chard and nettle tops. Pour in a small quantity of water, cover with lid and steam until wilted and tender. Mix gently to blend the veggies and oil, sprinkle on some sea salt and serve.

Sesanelp
A seasoning mixture of sesame seeds, nettle seed and nettle herb plus kelp and Celtic salt. Tasty! Roast 1/2 cup sesame seed in a frying pan to your liking. Cool. To a blender add cooled sesame seeds, 2/3 cup of nettle seed, 2 tablespoons dried nettle herb, 2 tablespoons kelp granules and 1/2 teaspoon Celtic salt. Blend till fine. Store in a glass jar. Goes great with a wide variety of foods. My morning toast is sprouted grain bread with a dribble of olive oil topped with this mixture and nutritional yeast. Yum!

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