By Chef Oliver Kienast, Wild Mountain Food and Drink
1 litre homemade vegetable or poultry broth
2 large onions
2 cloves garlic
1 fresh bay leaf
2 medium Yukon gold potatoes
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1-2 cups blanched nettle tops
2 tablespoons good oil
2 tablespoons white wine
Sweat onions in oil, then add garlic.
After a few minutes, add wine to cool down.
Add peeled and sliced potato.
Add stock and bay leaf.
Blanch nettles tops in salty water.
Blend the nettles separately from the soup (all other ingredients).
You may need to use some cold stock to help the nettles blend.
Pass each through a sieve, still keeping them separate.
Heat the soup adding the nettles just before serving.
Season with salt and lemon juice to taste.
Stinging nettle is an incredibly nutritious plant that has a similar taste and texture to spinach when cooked.
Stinging nettle is grown by farmers, gardeners and grows abundantly in many places around BC throughout the spring and summer.
Before you decide to forage for nettle, please review these important steps to keep in mind.
Foraging for Stinging Nettle
Stinging nettle can be harvested in many places around BC throughout the spring and summer. It is best to harvest nettle in early spring before the plants start to flower, while the leaves are still tender. Stinging nettle can often be found in dense patches in sunny and partially areas with moist soil.
If you decide to forage for nettle, it is important to make sure that you’re doing so in a respectful and ethical way.
Capital Daily published an article about the ethics of foraging in BC and produced an informative podcast interview with Jared Qwustenuxun Williams, a traditional foods educator, chef, and elders’ kitchen manager with Cowichan Tribes who has been harvesting food on his ancestral territory for most of his life.
Williams shares three guidelines for foraging that provide a helpful framework for foraging ethically:
Only take what you need: Williams follows a 20% rule, recommending folks only harvest 20% of any given plant in the area that they are foraging in.
Ask permission: Without permission, you shouldn’t be harvesting. Williams recommends settlers harvest on friends’ land if possible, or in parks where harvesting has been specifically authorized (not all parks allow harvesting). It is also important to appreciate that there are sacred sites and harvesting sites that Indigenous peoples have taken care of and used for generations. Be aware of where you forage and what you have permission to harvest.
Be educated about the ecosystem you are foraging in: Even without ill intention, folks can do a lot of damage by foraging without having the necessary knowledge of the area and ecosystem that they are in. Learn how to harvest without damaging the ecosystem and be aware of the impact you are having.