stinging nettle and green garlic soup

i love nettles.  for years now i have cultivated patches, both wild and in the garden.  nettles are real allies: full of nutrition and medicinal qualities.  the bright green color and bursting earth flavor of this soup are the heralds of spring.  read up on harvesting techniques on our nettle pesto recipe. 

we are just reaching the end of the time when one is lucky enough to come into green garlic and nettles at the same time.  don't put this recipe off and you'll be happily rewarded.  this soup can be put together in as little as 20 minutes: prep all the ingredients, put the pot on to boil, saute while you are blanching the nettles and then mix it all together.  its a simple, delicious and nourishing soup.  buen provecho!

4-8 cups stinging nettles, packed

1 head of green garlic or 4 cloves of garlic

2 shallots

1 small onion or 1/2 large onion

2 Tbl butter

2 Tbl olive oil

1 quart good broth

1 qt nettle tea

sea salt

start by blanching the nettles.  to do this: bring a large pot of water (at least 2 quarts) to boil, drop in the pile of nettles and stir.  get a strainer that fits over a large bowl and after about a minute, strain the nettles reserving all the liquid/tea.  when the nettles are cool enough to touch, roughly chop them up (dont worry, the boiling water has relinquished their sting).

chop your onions and shallots.  mince the cloves of garlic or chop the green garlic using the bulb and stem.  in your soup pot, saute the onions and shallots in the butter and olive oil on medium low heat until they soften and become translucent; 7-9 minutes.  add the garlic and a generous sprinkling of your favorite sea salt, continue to saute on low until the garlic begins to soften and a golden aroma fills your kitchen.  now add your good broth and bring to a boil, then simmer gently with a lid on for 5 minutes.

the final steps of the recipe require blending. 

if using a blender or vitamix:  add the blanched chopped nettles to the blender.  carefully  pour all of the hot soup with them and blend on low.  do not secure the lid to enable steam to escape while blending.  once it is smooth and bright green, return to the pot, add 2 cups of the reserved nettle tea and heat to serving temperature.  taste and add more salt if necessary.  add more tea to reach your desired consistency, this will be a thin soup.

if you have a nice immersion blender:  after simmering, remove the lid and add the nettles to the pot and blend.  begin by adding 2 cups of the reserved nettle tea and continue to add until the soup is of a thin consistency.  heat the soup back up, taste and add more salt if necessary.  serve hot with a side of sautéed morels and fresh bread.