I’ve been hearing for so many years the health benefits of stinging nettles. The first time I saw them, my FIL was pouring gasoline on some to kill them. Then, I saw some at a friend’s house and asked him to save me some so I could plant them (well, we never followed through). When we moved into this house, I was shocked when I saw a few plants in the back yard, so I dug them up and put them in some pots (hoping I would eventually have enough to maybe make some tea). Imagine my surprise when I went to do some yard work and they were EVERYWHERE in my back yard! I donned my gloves (these we got at Home Depot and they are knitted gloves with thick rubber covering the palm and fingers). I like these better than any of the other heavy gloves I’ve used in the past because I could actually feel the stem of the plant and gauge if I was pulling too hard (I wanted root and all). These worked fantastic as long as I didn’t twist my hand (which I did and ended up ‘stinging’ myself about 7 times through this whole process). I used a 3 gallon bucket for the harvest (and it was about 2/3 filled) so I roughly guesstimate I ended up with about 12 cups of untrimmed stinging nettles. I also threw in about 4 cups of chickweed (I’ve eaten that before and really liked it).
So, how do you clean that many stinging nettles without getting stung too many times? I really didn’t know. So, I Googled it. I saw on Wikipedia (yeah, I know) that some just throw the whole mess in a pot with some water, boil them, then strain the liquid to get all the dirt out (once nettles are cooked, they no longer sting). That’s what I chose to do and it turned out to be a huge pain in the rear end. I really think it would have been easier to throw the whole mess of them on the concrete and spray them with a hose. I still ended up having to rinse out the now cooked nettles because not all the dirt was released in the water. Then I trimmed the roots off, roughly chopped them, and they were ready for the soup.
As for the chickweed, that’s easy because there’s no fear of impaling yourself every time you touch them. Rinse, roughly chop, and throw in the soup.
Now, this is how I do soup 99% of the time. I boil whatever I’m using (whole chicken, chicken parts, beef or pork bones) in roughly 10 to 12 cups of water, skimming as it cooks down. Then I strain it (removing any meat to add back to the soup) and for seasoning I use either bouillon or soup base for the flavoring, tasting as you go (too much salt of any kind cannot be fixed unless you can double or triple the amount of liquid). If you don’t want to go that route, add to the bones an onion or two (don’t peel, just roughly chop), a couple of carrots (with the tops if they have them), the green top of a leek or two (too tough to eat but add a lot of flavor), some celery (including the leaves), a couple of bay leaves, some pepper, garlic, and whatever other spices you like. All of this will be strained out, leaving behind the best broth you have ever tasted.
Now, I will do my best to write up the recipe I concocted yesterday (In a smaller portion since I always make enough for an army, then freeze the leftovers).
Spring “Weed” Chicken Soup
- 1 whole chicken (I used a rotisserie chicken)
- Water to cover (roughly 8 to 10 cups)
- 4 to 6 cups stinging nettles, cleaned and trimmed
- 2 cups chickweed (cleaned and trimmed)
- 2 cups kale (I used baby kale so if using regular, roughly chop)
- 2 cups spinach
- 3 (or more) cloves of garlic, minced
- 3 Tablespoons chicken bouillon or soup base (to taste)
- Salt and Pepper (to taste)
Place the chicken in a pot and cover with water (by at least an inch or two). Bring to a boil then drop the temperature down to medium or a little higher. Let this go, skimming off the foam as it cooks, for a few hours (or do like I did and throw it in a pressure cooker for about 2 hours … my pressure cooker is happiest at 15 pounds pressure). Strain out the chicken, then add everything else to the broth, keeping the heat on a low simmer (low to medium low). Once the chicken is cooled, remove the meat, cut or break into edible chunks. If this is how you want your soup, add the chicken back to the broth, let it heat up, and serve.
What we did was puree the greens in the broth, keeping the chicken meat in a separate bowl. To each bowl, I placed some chicken in it, sprinkled some shredded cheese, then poured the pureed soup over this. BUT in my bowl (since hubby doesn’t like it) I added 2 T. sour cream with 2 T. heavy cream, whisked that together, then placed the chicken meat, cheese and broth. Voila! Cream of Weed soup with chicken! It was awesome but would have been even better with some bits of crispy bacon sprinkled on top!
Now, to see how close I can get with My Fitness Pal. Well, would you look at that! Not only did they have nettles listed but chickweed, also! Woo Hoo! Listed as “MAKJ Spring “Weed” Chicken Soup”.
This is without the cheese, sour cream, or heavy cream that I ate in my bowl:
Per Serving: Calories: 559 Carbohydrates: 8 Fats: 36 Protein: 48 Fiber: 5 (Net Carbs: 3)