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It’s been a busy week in my cottage garden. 

Well, what is actually left of the garden after the cruel winter murdered all of my herbs and shrubs, sniff.  So a huge clear out was in order and I managed to salvage a few shrubs and bulbs for containers.  The rest was all carted off by the grim reaper in three truckloads of green waste.  So I’m trolling through garden books at the minute and re-designing a low maintenance (goodbye back-breaking weeding) and practical space with new higher raised veg and herb beds.  Building a brick BBQ and clay Pizza oven is also on the cards and it may well turn out to be a catastrophic disaster, but hey, I’m up for a challenge!

Of course these pesky nettles are thriving lately between my few rose bushes in the front garden.  The irony of it.  So revenge soup was needed for rumbling bellies and blistered thorn prodded, stung hands.  My Dad has a memory from childhood of my Great-Grandmother making this soup for him and his siblings coming home from school, after walking 31 + kilometres through the fields in short trousers to their home in the countryside.  In reality though, the four kilometre journey must have been seemed endless to tired little legs.  He was always told it was nutritious and it seems my Great Granny knew a thing or two about folk recipes as stinging nettles contain high levels of Vitamin A and C, Iron and amazingly – Protein.  All in a free pesky organic nettle?!  Add a spud for carbohydrate and some milk and this is a soup and a half.  Delicious.  The formic acid which gives the nettle its sting is killed by the cooking process by the way, just in case you’re nervous. 

This week is also National Soup Week and Gorta are running their Soup for Life campaign again for the second year to raise awareness of world hunger and highlight the issue of poverty in developing countries. Many top Irish restaurants are participating and generously donating a euro per bowl of soup towards the charity.  Gorta is an NGO (non-governmental agency) and you can read more about their dedicated charity work here.  Or the Soup for Life campaign here

Spring Nettle Soup

(serves 2)

1 medium onion chopped

1 medium potato chopped

250ml chicken / vegetable stock

150ml milk

60g young nettle tops

50ml cream / creme fraiche

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

1 tsp butter

1 tsp rapeseed or olive oil

salt & pepper

To Do

Peel and chop the onion and potato.

Put a small to medium-sized saucepan over a medium heat with the oil and butter.

Add the chopped onion and potato and gently cook without colour for 3 minutes.

In the meantime, wash the nettles in a colander using a fork – or wear gloves!

Add the milk and stock to the onion and potato and cook for another five minutes or until soft.

Add the nettles and parsley and cook for another two to three minutes until the nettles are wilted but still retaining a green colour.

Puree in a blender or food processor and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve and garnish with cream or creme fraiche and crispy bacon bits or lardons.

Wholesome, frugal & totally delicious!