Nettles: Nuisance or Nutrition?

Have you ever brushed up against a weed with jagged edges that made your skin burn? I have! We have a small wetland area running along our yard, and I’ve been known to brush against some weeds that make my skin burn and sting while I’m mowing right along that edge. They are nettles, and I normally try to avoid them due to the skin irritation they cause.

That bunch of greens on the left is the culprit.

Suffice it to say, I was a little bit apprehensive when we received a bunch of nettles with our CSA vegetables. How could I possibly eat something that causes my skin to burn and itch if I simply brush against it outside?

According to our farm newsletter, while nettles can be a nuisance, they can also be a good source of protein, iron, vitamins A and C, calcium, magnesium and potassium. They have been called a super food and are believed to have medicinal purposes. Who knew? Maybe you did, but it was news to me.

There has even been a book written on the many uses of nettles.


I trust our farmer, so I was willing to give the nettles a try. I made a recipe included in the farm newsletter: Cream of Nettle and Sorrel Soup, which I will share with you. (If you are looking for recipes for some of the more unusual vegetable items out there, you may want to search the farm’s website. They have a lot of great recipes at Harmony Valley Farm.)

Cream of Nettle and Sorrel Soup

2 T butter
6 ramp bulb and stems, finely sliced
3/4 bunch of nettles
1 cup sorrel
4 cups vegetable broth
1 cup cream

-Carmelize ramps over low heat with butter in a 4 quart sauce pan.
-Roughly chop nettles and sorrel and add all remaining ingredients to ramps. Simmer about 10 minutes. Allow to cool slightly, then puree with blender or emulsion blender. Can be made ahead and reheated.

***Please note, I made the soup according to the above recipe, but we all found it more liquidy than we’d prefer. If I make this again, I will reduce the amount of broth significantly, or maybe use some flour to thicken it a bit. The taste was good, but we just thought we’d like it a little thicker and creamier. You should be careful while handling the nettles. They should be rinsed very well in cold water and cooked. Once they were cooked, though, I promise you I experienced no stinging whatsoever.***

We ate our soup with some crackers and raw sunchokes. We even got to try out our garlic sheep cheese, by spreading a bit on the crackers and sunchokes.

I have just a bit to say about sunchokes.

Sunchokes resemble potatoes, so I have tried to prepare them like potatoes in a variety of ways – mashed, hash browns, baked, etc. I never liked them prepared in these ways; the only way I have liked them is raw, or as part of a creamed veggie soup. If you eat sunchokes and have more successful sunchoke recipes, please share!!

What do you think? Could you bring yourself to eat stinging nettles? Do you already eat them?


5 thoughts on “Nettles: Nuisance or Nutrition?

    • I totally understand. I was apprehensive about it, even after being with the farm for two seasons. Ultimately, I decided to trust our farmer and give it a try. Good soup with no ill effects. I might have to put that 101 Uses book on my to-read list.

  1. Pingback: Say Cheese! | Be not simply good…

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