I have been getting a little obsessed with the weeds on the farm lately. Specifically with eating them. Funilly there is a book on the farm mantel piece entitled ‘Eat Your Weeds.
Which we have never opened. Maybe it has been subliminally brainwashing me all the years?
Anyway, my poor family have been guinea pigs for a series of nutrient dense, very green, soups, made out of weeds. And now I proudly bring to you my first in this series – Nettle Detox Soup. My mom and I really like this soup because it is savory and amazingly tasty.
The guys on the other hand – my Dad and my mountain Troll – they prefer the Chickweed Chowder…. Probably because it is a less verdant green, and because it has cheeeeeese in it. : P
Before we get into the recipe, I just want to talk a little about the health benefits and detox power of nettles, where to find them, and give some tips on how to process them without being stung!
Health Benefits of Nettles
Super high iron content
Nettle has one of highest iron contents of plants. Surpassed only by parsley and chickweed. For this reason is said to be an excellent blood builder and energiser. Naturopaths often prescribe it for underactive thyroids or adrenal fatigue.
High iron content always gets me excited. Awhile ago I suffered from some serious energy drops, where I felt super depleted of physical force. I realised that it was probably from having low iron levels (a common thing for women!) and started making things like Hemp Water Drinks and Red Hot Spinach Juice to get the levels up. Now I found out about the high iron contents of nettles and chickweed, which is why I also worked out the Chickweed Chowder recipe.
Extreme Nutrient Density
Besides being high in iron, nettles have been described as one of the most nutrient dense plants in the world! This is because they contain rich levels of protein, selenium, magnesium, potassium, calcium, vitamins A, C, D, K, and most Bs.
Big Time Detoxifier
And last but not least, nettle is a big time detoxifier! It acts as a gentle laxative effect, and actively assists the body to rid itself of stored up waste in the blood, cells and organs, especially the kidneys. I generally do not make an effort to detox as I live relatively clean (I think!), but recently I started doing TRE! This kickstarted an unusual detox in my body and I was keen to support the process with my nettle soups : ). If you want to know more about TRE (it’s amazing!) I describe what I experienced after in session in this post.
Why We Need to Help Our Bodies to Detox
Also, I realised that while I might be practicing a generally clean lifestyle – there are so many sneaky pollutants (of air and body) hidden around us. Stuff like pesticides and herbicides can build up in your body from store bought veg, and even things like wearing deodorant can land you with some stored up heavy metals.
No man is an island, and unless one lives in a bubble there is no way to avoid all of the environmental toxins out there. In fact wait – the bubble would probably be plastic and therefore poison you slowly with BPAs!
Heavy metals and toxins can lead to general crappy feeling less, weight gain, and some very serious illnesses.
So, helping the body to detox is always a good idea.
Where to Get Nettles
So, where can one get some nettles??
Nettles unfortunately are not popular or shelf stable enough to grace our store shelves! So you have to go looking for them. They usually start popping up towards the end of winter and grow on into early spring. If you do not have any growing in your garden, take a walk in some fields, woods or trails.
Just make sure that the nettles you pick are not growing right next to a highway or main road. This might have a residue of exhaust fumes on them!
How to Process Nettles Without Getting Stung
And of course, when dealing with stinging nettles there is that, well, sting.
The best way to avoid being stung is to wear rubber gloves while picking and chopping up the nettles. What I like to do is to use scissors to cut them up into a bowl. This way you can easily snip the leaves and any juicy stalk tips off. However you can just as easily chop them up on a board. Whichever you prefer.
Also, keep in mind that the sting of the nettle is not harmful. In fact it is supposed to be therapeutic! So don’t stress if you do get a stray sting.
A note on the lentils.
I incorporated lentils into this soup to make it an all round meal that has some extra protein and complex carbs in it. They also add an extra savoriness to the soup.
If you are going to be using dried lentils for this soup – try to soak them well beforehand. You can then steam them up while the other parts of the soup are cooking.
If you do not have the time or the patience for soaking lentils, then you can also use canned lentils, or red lentils. Red lentils are much quicker to cook than their more earthy colored cousins, the brown and green lentils. You can simply cook them up while doing the rest of the soup and they will be ready to incorporate at the end.
Nettle & Avocado Detox SoupPrint This
- 500 grams of potatoes
- 1/2 cup water
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- 4 heaped tablespoons of flour (for gluten free substitute with 2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with enough water to make a slurry + add to soup during step 4)
- 200 grams of chopped raw nettles
- 5 cups water (you can also use stock if you like)
- 4 cloves garlic
- pinch of dried rosemary
- 1/2 cup parsley
- 1 ripe avocado
- 2 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 1/2 cups cooked / soaked or canned lentils
- Chop up the potatoes and put them onto steam with 1/2 cup of water in a small pot. If you need to cook already soaked lentils as well, put them into a separate pot to simmer with enough water to cover.
- Pour the olive oil into a large pot. Put on the heat and add the chopped nettles. Toss in the hot olive oil for half a minute.
- Add the flour and toss for another half minute.
- Add water, bring to a simmer, then turn down the heat and allow the nettles to simmer for 5-10 minutes. While this is happening you can chop up and add the garlic and parsley
- Now combine the cooked potato and the avocado to the nettles and blend on high until the soup reaches a smooth consistency. An immersion blender works well for this. You can add additional water or stock if the soup is too thick
- Lastly, add the salt, pepper, apple cider vinegar and lentils. Stir and taste, adjusting the salt and pepper quantities if neccesary.
- Serve and enjoy!
I purposely made this soup dairy free for those who like to eradicate dairy when they do a detox. However, feel free to substitute in cream, milk, cream cheese etc for a richer version.
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