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We are completely immersed in nature here on our peninsula in Studland on the Jurassic Coast in Dorset, watching our heath, shoreline and woodland change throughout the seasons is a constant source of inspiration for us. We have designed our foraging and wild food adventures to get you close to nature and to let us guide you through what makes this area of Dorset so special and unique.
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Nettle Soup Recipe

foraging for nettles

Nettle Soup Recipe

Nettles (Urtica dioica) are a fabulous source of iron, protein and packed with minerals. High in calcium, magnesium, nitrogen, potassium, vitamin A & C, this is a wild plant that is super versatile and super good for you. Spring is the time to forage for nettles when they are young and tender, pick the smaller younger plants between spring and early summer as they are tastier and fresher, you can still harvest from the larger plants later on but just pick the younger smaller nettle leaves at the top of the plant. This way the plant keeps on growing and providing us with fresh leaves into Autumn.

foraging for nettles

As we’re sure you know nettles are prolific and grow everywhere, waste land, verges, roadsides, hedgerows and gardens are the perfect place habitats for nettles, but as with all foraging try to avoid foraging from places where the air is polluted or contaminated ground. You might also want to wear gloves to protect your hands from the stingers!

Grab your gloves and a foraging basket and hit the hedgerows right now, nettles are growing everywhere and with so many reputed healing properties netlles are a perfect wild ingredient to get into your diet to support us as we come out of winter. Nettles are extremely healthy and nutritious and they are anti inflammatory, so help to ease painful muscles and joints, eczema, arthritis, gout, and high in iron so also help with anemia.

We like to use nettles in our everyday food, as we would spinach or kale and this is a great way to get the minerals and vitamins found in this wild plant into your diet, but you can also make your own teas, tinctures and salves to take advantage of the healing powers of this plant too. Used in this way nettles are great at helping with allergies, eczema and reducing inflammation and pain.

nettle tincture

The other good news is that it’s not just the nettle leaves that can be foraged and put to good use, the whole plant including the root has been reported to have uses. Herbalists will tell you that the root has herbal uses, and has been known to help keep a healthy prostate. The stem is also edible when young, though be aware that it does becomes fibrous as it gets older. we like to make cordage out of it as it gets tougher and older which is a great way of using the otherwise underused part of the plant. The leaves are in our opnion the best part of the plant to use, ferment them, pickle them, make soups, pestos or add to supper. As the leaves get older you can still use them for making teas and cordials. Late in the year the nettles produce seeds which can be used in tinctures or dried and turned into a powder.

Nettle soup

Our favourite way to use nettles as we move out of winter into spring is by making nettle soup, it’s something about the taste of the hedgerows and the comfort of a steaming bowl of spring green soup that feels like you’re being hugged every time you take a delicious mouthful.

Ingredients:

2 generous handfuls of nettles
750ml stock (chicken or vegetable)
500ml oat milk (or any other type are fine to use)
1 potato
1 large brocoli stem
1 red onion
1 leek
4 cloves garlic
salt & pepper

*We also added a handful of wild chives, hogweed, wild garlic, yarrow & cleavers. See our immune boosting foraging guide to find out more about some of these plants.

How to to make nettle soup:

Sweat veg in a heavy bottom pan in butter or oil for 10 – 15 minutes, add garlic and sweat for another few minutes than add stock and milk. Cover and leave to simmer for 20 minutes. Add nettles and any other wild ingredients (see above) cook for a further few minutes. Blitz & season to taste, serve with a dash of yoghurt or cream and sprinkle with wild herbs.

nettle soup-2

Other uses for nettles

Nettle tea – Nettles make a brilliant health boosting tea, thoguht to ease aches and pains, help to reduce hayfever symptoms, eczema and asthma just add to hot water and leave to brew for ten minutes then remove the leafs and enjoy.

Nettle pesto – add olive oil, salt, pepper, pine nuts and parmesan to a food processor and blitz. See our recipe from the archives here.

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