Stinging Nettles Soup

Stinging Nettles Soup

Corey Taratuta / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 20 mins
Total: 35 mins
Servings: 4 to 6 servings

Stinging nettles may seem like an unlikely ingredient to cook with, but when incorporated into a recipe, the prickly hairs on the plant that can sting are dismantled and you're left with delicate greens that taste a bit like a combination of spinach and cucumber.

Nettles are used in traditional healing practices as a cleansing tonic, and this soup has a bit of that good-for-me feel to it, while it is elegant enough to serve as a first course at a dinner party. This stinging nettle soup is a delicious puree of nettles, onion, potatoes, and spices and becomes a beautiful deep, dark green. Look for stinging nettles at farmers markets in the spring.


  • 1/2 pound stinging nettles

  • 1 medium onion

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided

  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste

  • 1 pound potatoes

  • 6 cups chicken broth, or vegetable broth, or water

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, optional

  • Sour cream, yogurt, or​ horseradish cream, optional

Steps to Make It

  1. Wear gloves to handle the nettles; otherwise, you will get poked with the prickles which will cause itching. Rinse the nettles in cold running water if they seem at all gritty, and set aside.

  2. Peel and chop the onion. Everything will get puréed later, so don't worry too much about how it looks.

  3. In a large pot, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft, about 3 minutes.

  4. While the onions cook, peel the potatoes and chop them up.

  5. Add the potatoes and the broth to the onions and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a steady simmer, and cook until the potatoes are mostly tender, about 15 minutes.

  6. Add the nettles and cook until they're very tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter, plus the pepper and nutmeg.

  7. Puree the soup with an immersion blender or in a blender or food processor in batches. For a silken, less fibrous texture, run the mixture through a food mill or sieve.

  8. Stir in the cream, if using. Season the soup to taste with additional salt and pepper if you like.

  9. Serve the soup hot, garnished with sour cream, yogurt, or horseradish cream, if desired.

Use Caution When Blending Hot Ingredients

Steam expands quickly in a blender, and can cause ingredients to splatter everywhere or cause burns. To prevent this, fill the blender only one-third of the way up, vent the top, and cover with a folded kitchen towel while blending.

Recipe Tips

  • If you happen to have blanched and frozen stinging nettles from earlier in the season, just use them in place of the fresh ones called for here—no need to defrost them first, just let them thaw in the soup and add the necessary extra few minutes to cook.
  • Like all soups, this one tastes best when made with homemade stock if you happen to have some on hand, but works just fine with store-bought broth or even plain old-fashioned water.