Nettle soup in May

Apparently eating nettles three times during the month of May purifies the blood and is good for rheumatism – good at preventing it in actual fact! Nettles, like most plants are full of things which are good for us,

  • Vitamin A, C, E, F, K, P
  • Vitamin B- complexes as well as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, B-6 all of which are found in high levels and act as antioxidents.
  • zinc, iron, magnesium, copper and selenium boron, bromine, calcium, chlorine, chlorophyll, potassium, phosphorus, sodium, iodine, chromium,  silicon and sulfur
  • Sixteen free amino acids, and carotenoids such as beta-carotene, luteoxanthin and lutein epoxide.

As with many modern and Christian festivals, many special times of year we celebrate as religious activities, are rooted in much older beliefs and traditions, and May Day is definitely an important of of them! Bealtaine (Beltaine, Beltane and other spellings) is one of the traditional four big festivals, coming after the early spring Imbolc, and before the autumn Lughnasadha and winter Samhain (there are four other special days in between marking the equinoxes)

Another very important plant for this special time of year, is the tree that the month was named after, the may or hawthorn. They smell so sweet, and their fruit, the haws, can be made into jams and jellies (although I haven’t had much success with them!) nettles on the other hand, which can also be cooked and eaten, I have had great soup success with! I’ve tried several different recipes, and all have been great – even the most simple, onion, potato, nettles, nutmeg.

Here is another recipe which sounds very unctuous:

  • 5 oz bright green, young nettles, weight when stripped from stalks, washed and chopped
  • 1lb potatoes, cut in equal sized pieces
  • 4 oz onion, finely chopped
  • 4 oz leeks, well washed and finely chopped (you can use the green tops which add to the colour of the soup – except for the very leathery outer leaves – well-washed, and chopped, then you can save the tender white parts for something else like coleslaw or salad)
  • about 2 pints of good vegetable or chicken stock
  • 2 oz butter melted
  • 5 fl oz whole milk, cream or a mixture of both to make the volume
  • salt, pepper and nutmeg
  1. add the vegetables (not the nettles) to the melted butter in a pan, stir to cover
  2. cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook very gently until they are just soft but haven’t browned
  3. add about ¾ of the stock and bring to a simmer until the vegetables are properly but not overcooked
  4. then add the nettles and as soon as they are cooked, and still bright green, take them of the heat, add ¾ the cream, then blitz, blend, reduce to a thick liquid
  5. add more of the stock (heated) if it’s too thick, check the seasoning (it depends on how salty your stock is)
  6. (you may need to very gently reheat if the adding cream and blending has cooled it too much but don’t over do it or it will lose colour and flavour)
  7. serve, put a swirl of cream on top and a good grate of nutmeg, and enjoy with rusty bread



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