If you are looking for nutrition, look no further than nettle. This herb is also known as stinging nettle because the needles can cause significant skin irritation. However, the leaves are a powerhouse of nutrition, and there are lots of good reasons to add it to your diet.
Nettle, both plant and leaves, can be eaten as a vegetable. Nettle leaves can also be dried and used to make tea. So, you can include nettle in your diet in a variety of ways, both fresh and dried.
Nettle is full of many beneficial nutrients: vitamins A and B, proteins, iron, potassium, fatty acids and calcium. Nettle is known for its variety of health benefits, including reducing allergic symptoms, anti-inflammatory effects, prostate and digestive health. Because of its high iron content, nettle leaf tea has traditionally been used to help prevent and resolve anemia.
Nettle has also been found to be effective as a pain reliever. Research shows that applying nettle leaf directly to a painful joint reduced osteoarthritic pain. This may be due to compounds in the nettle leaf that interfere with how the body transmits pain signals.
If you want to eat nettle as a vegetable, you’ll likely have to collect your own. Because of the skin irritation that nettles cause, they are rarely seen for sale as a fresh item. You’ll need to forage carefully though – make sure to have little if any direct contact with the nettles. Once you have at least 4 cups of nettles, you are ready to make a green soup where the nettles themselves provide the thickening.
1 quart chicken broth
1 onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp of oil (coconut or chicken fat)
4 cups of nettle leaves, washed
salt and pepper
- Bring broth to a simmer in a soup pot.
- While broth is coming to a simmer, saute garlic and onion in a skillet.
- When broth is at full simmer, add onion, garlic and nettle leaves.
- Stir soup for 2 minutes. Then take the soup off the burner and let it rest for 10 minutes before you serve it.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Optionally, you can turn this into a cream soup! Bring soup back to a simmer, and add 3/4 cup of heavy cream.
Leftovers of the this soup freeze well, as long as you haven’t turned it into a cream soup.