The first few meals of the season to be had from the farm or forest make me positively giddy. This here is one of them. My friend Jon once made me this nettle and potato soup at his farm, Azolla Farm, just north of Sacramento and I have been making it ever since. Stinging nettles when cooked have a creamy consistency that is unrivaled by any other green in my opinion.
Nettles on their stinging stems.
I live to wear gloves when harvesting and preparing nettles although I have found that letting them sting away is great for the arthritis and carpal tunnel I experience from time to time in my hands. You can learn all about the topical medicinal benefits of this stinging green here at Mother Earth News. For this recipe I then stripped the leaves from the stems and set them aside.
The abundance of nettles thankfully coincides with the abundance of green garlic, mature garlic’s fresher, milder, tastier (if you ask me) younger sibling. Here at Rural Resources I was lucky enough to inherit a crop of Elephant Garlic from the previous farmer. Green garlic is so mild, I sauteed a little in the soup with onions and I very finely sliced some raw to garnish the soup as well.
This is the part of my blog entry where I thank the good lord that I am not gluten free. Because if I was I would be in constant pain as I cannot resist an amazing wood fired bread. I nearly cried myself to sleep for months upon moving, missing my Tartine and Della Fatorria until I was introduced to Farm & Sparrow. Although Asheville is over an hour away, bread freezes pretty well and until I can find time to make my own, I am more than happy to support a local bakery.
From the moment I first dipped a fresh radish in anchovy butter, I was hooked. This combination is especially nice on crusty bread. It’s also especially nice when the butter is homemade from fresh cow’s milk from Rural Resources.
Now that’s the color of REAL grass fed butter.
Mizuna greens mixed with red romaine lettuces and topped with a simple green garlic (I can’t get enough) vinaigrette provide a spicy, fresh and slightly bitter taste to round out this simple spring meal.
Nettle and Potato Soup with Green Garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced small
1 small bulb (or half large bulb) of green garlic, sliced thin (save half for garnish)
1 lb. potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 tablespoon fresh sage, minced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced
water (to cover potatoes by about 2 inches)
1/2 pound fresh nettle leaves
juice of one lemon
paprika (to garnish)
In a medium to large saucepan, heat the olive oil. Saute the onions and half of the green garlic in the oil until softened. Add the potatoes and herbs to the pot and cover with water by about 2 to 3 inches. Add the nettle greens and salt.
Simmer on low until the potatoes are cooked. Using an immersion blender puree the mixture until it’s a smooth, creamy soup. Add fresh lemon juice and salt to taste. Garnish with thinly sliced green garlic and paprika. Serve with Anchovy Butter and Radish Toasts.
Anchovy Butter and Radish Toasts
A few slices of your favorite bread
1/2 stick butter (4 tablespoons)
3 or 4 anchovies packed in oil (about 1 tablespoon minced)
1/2 tablespoon green garlic minced
fresh radish (your favorite kind)
In a small saucepan, melt the butter with the anchovies and green garlic. Brush over bread and toast. Top with your favorite radish, whole or sliced. I like the spicy greens so I just go with whole radishes.
Sit back and enjoy being on the other side of the polar vortex!! Hooray for Spring!