People in my clinic have come in recently complaining of seasonal allergies beginning. The hazelnut trees around us have all started to tassel and the itchy eyes and drippy noses have begun! The medicine in the stinging nettle can help.
Nettles are helpful for seasonal allergy symptoms in about half of people. In the other half, they do not help allergies at all, but are still full of vitamins and minerals. They can be used in a variety of ways; as tea, tincture, fresh cooked, or freeze dried in a capsule. This time of year they grow in Oregon in all kinds of places, and seem to be able to survive and thrive in a variety of conditions.
I tied my grocery bag onto the dog leash and wore my double thick cotton gloves so I could gather nettles on my way back from my run. It turns out that those gloves were not thick enough! Only now, more than 48 hours later have my fingers stopped tingling from the nettle stings that came through, and they still feel a little numb. After the first couple stems stung me through the gloves, I used a few layers of downed leaves between my fingers and the stems, in addition to my gloves, and that worked well. Maybe leather gloves next time!
There are a few great recipes online that I found. Many were similar and I combined a few to come up with this below. Anyone who has cooked with me, knows that I take recipes as a loose suggestion. I had chicken bone broth so I used that, but it could be vegan with water or vegetable stock. Then afterward my whole family thought adding a generous pat of butter really made it perfect. The coconut milk was nice and creamy but any milk or milk alternative would work fine.
This recipe uses potatoes, which for some is an inflammatory food. When potatoes are organic they can be full of minerals, and we all need more minerals. Conventionally grown potatoes are irradiated to help preserve them, and tend to be very nutritionally deficient due to soil depletion of minerals. They make you feel full but do not give your body as many nutrients. Organic potatoes tend to be higher in minerals and can be a great source of resistance fiber as well. Resistance fiber is higher in the potatoes that have dark colored flesh (not skin, but flesh).
Next time, I want to try it with sweet potatoes and add some butter before I put it on the table. Sweet potatoes are in a different family than regular potatoes and tend to be a healthy food for most people. They are high in fiber and have a lower glycemic index, meaning they do not raise blood sugar as rapidly.
- Nettles - I picked about a gallon and a half fresh - it cooks way down and I did not use the stems though you could
- Oil - enough to coat the bottom of your soup pan to sauté the onion
- Onion - one whole onion
- Garlic - 3-4 cloves
- Potatoes - about 4-5 medium potatoes
- Carrot - 2-3 carrots
- Stock - 1-2 quarts
- Milk - I used coconut milk - about 2 cups
- Salt and pepper - to taste
Once the nettles are blanched, they no longer sting you! I dumped my nettles straight from the bag into a boiling stock pot and used a long-handled wooden spoon to push them down into the water. One or two minutes in boiling water and you are safe! Drain them and let them cool. The leaves strip off the stems easily. You can use the whole plant also, you will just need a good blender at the end to get the soup really creamy and avoid stringiness that is more likely with the stems.
Sauté the onions and garlic. Cut the potatoes to 1/2 inch cubes (with the skin on). Cut carrots in 1/2 inch rounds. Combine everything in the pan and simmer until veggies are soft. Use enough liquid to cover everything. Once it is all soft and cooled some, use a blender to puree it. I used an immersion blender but any kind will work. Salt and pepper to taste.