As you may have noticed it’s nettle season at the moment but this time, unlike last year, I lazily bought mine in the Temple Bar Farmers Market instead of foraging them myself. Although there are lots of similar recipes around for this soup I thought I’d post my one because rather than the usual thickening agent of potatoes I decided to use a more old fashioned method instead: bread.
There’s a long history of this practice originally going back to Mediterranean peasant food but also even the grand classical cuisine of Escoffier. He said it gives ‘an incomparably smooth texture’ and it most definitely imparts a lovely silkiness which is very important here as I find soups with a sole base of leafy vegetables can be somewhat gritty (a powerful blender is a must too, I used a Thermomix).
As you can imagine, this dish is very filling not only because of the bread but also the cream and butter: for me, these are essential because the soup is just a bit too austere without them. I also like the contrast of using big rich ingredients with a humble weed like the nettle.
75g onions, finely chopped
500ml veal stock
100g nettles, roughly chopped
3 slices white bread (crusts removed), roughly chopped
75ml double cream
- Melt half the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat.
- When foaming add the onions and sauté for around 10 minutes until translucent.
- Pour in the veal stock and bring to the boil.
- Add the nettles, salt, pepper and nutmeg and then reduce to a simmer for five minutes.
- Add two slices of the bread and simmer for another five minutes.
- Transfer the soup to a blender and blend to a very fine puree (if the soup is not thick enough gradually add the rest of the bread until it is).
- Stir in the cream and the rest of the butter.
- Season to taste and divide between two bowls before serving.