Uncooked stinging nettles will sting you, so be sure to wear gloves when handling them. For best flavour, harvest only the top section of the plant, containing the first four leaves. When foraging for any wild plants, make sure you have positively identified what you are gathering. Forage only in areas free from pesticides and herbicides where you have permission to collect plants.
2 tbsp (30 ml) olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, diced
8 cups (2 litres) chicken or vegetable stock
3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced (about 1 1/2 lbs/ 750 g)
1/4 tsp (1 ml) dried thyme leaves
1/8 tsp (0.5 ml) grated nutmeg
1 bay leaf
6 cups (1.5 litres) lightly packed stinging nettles (young leaves and stems only)
6 green onions (green part only), coarsely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup (125 ml) plain yogurt, sour cream or crème fraîche
1/4 cup (60 ml) hulled sunflower seeds (optional)
In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and celery. Cook, stirring often, until the onion has softened.
Add the stock, potatoes, thyme, nutmeg and bay leaf. Bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until the potatoes are tender, 15 to 25 minutes.
Add the stinging nettles and green onions. (Be sure to wear gloves or use tongs when handling the stinging nettles.)
Simmer, stirring to submerge the nettles in the hot liquid, just until the nettles turn bright green, 30 seconds to one minute.
Remove the pot from the heat. Remove the bay leaf.
Purée the soup until smooth. Reheat gently. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Ladle up vivid green bowlfuls. Swirl yogurt into each bowl and sprinkle with sunflower seeds (if using).
Danielle Bouch is a Soup Sister and blogger, foodforarchitects.wordpress.com