Tender new nettles give tastiest soup
Nettles contain lots of vitamins, minerals and amino acids, especially vitamin C, iron, folic acid and calcium.
Carl von Linné ate nettle soup in the 18th century. Linné is one of Sweden's best-known scientists. He drew up a system for dividing plants into families, a system which is still in use. Linné came to Östergötland in the spring, There people picked nettles for soup 'as long as the nettle is tender and no longer than a finger', Linné writes.
In the middle of the 18th century Cajsa Warg writes about nettle soup in her cookery book as well. She writes, just like Linné, about the ingredients: broth, chervil and either
Welsh onion or chives. This makes a 'good, tasty soup'.
Throughout the years the base has been new, tender nettles in the spring. The soup is eaten mostly in Scandinavia and Eastern Europe, often with halved hard-boiled eggs. In Britain nettles were eaten in a white sauce in the Bronze Age, around 1,000 BC.
Nettles are a delicacy in themselves. If you wish, you can add a splash of sherry, some chives or crisp fried onion.
The green leaves must first be parboiled to remove the 'sting'. Don't forget to use gloves.
About 2 litres newly-picked young nettles
About 1 litre water
1 tbsp butter or margarine
3 tbsp flour
2 stock cubes, (chicken or vegetable)
1 decilitre cream
Optional: 3 tbsp dry sherry
2 tbsp chopped chives
½ hard-boiled egg per person
1. Rinse nettles thoroughly, remove roots and coarse parts.
2. Boil up 5 dl water, add salt to taste. Add nettles and boil for 5 minutes. Strain, put liquid aside. Chop nettles finely.
3. Melt butter in a pan, stir in flour. Add nettle liquid.
4. Crumble in stock cubes, add rest of nettle liquid. Boil for a few minutes.
5. Add nettles and cream. Adjust flavour with more salt if required, sherry to taste, if desired, and sprinkle with chopped chives.
Serve soup piping hot straight from the cooker with half a hard-boiled egg in the plate and a piece of good bread alongside.