Food from weeds: Nettle soup

I’ve always liked the idea of making food out of garden weeds – I don’t use weeds for compost so usually they end up on the rubbish tip. I’ve liked the idea, but have not been sure about the reality!

20130531_135625

So I decided to be brave and try out this recipe from Good Food magazine, using the very healthy looking nettles that are sprouting around my garden. I only got stung once when picking them. I picked about 200g, which was the leaves of about 8-10 tall nettles.

It’s basically a simple vegetable soup: potatoe, carrot, leek and onion with nettles. I used milk instead of cream. The recipe just wilts the nettles before blending but I wasn’t so brave, I gave it a good 5-10 minute boil after the nettles had gone in. Although I washed them thoroughly, I was a bit nervous about what had been in the garden. A bit silly, all our food ultimately comes from a garden, with bugs, animals and all sorts running around there.

The soup does not give off a very nice smell, to be honest. It tastes very similar to spinach soup, I think. Not bad at all!

Apparently nettles are nutritious – with vitamins A, C, iron, potassium, manganese, and calcium. That’s pretty good for a weed…

English: Damselfly perched on nettle The wild ...

English: Damselfly perched on nettle The wild plants and weeds growing beside the path are visited by a great number of insects; the iridescent blue of a damselfly, taking a very short rest, is contrasting vividly with the green of the nettles. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sugar, spice, and all things nice… like beetroot? Egyptian Lentil Soup Recipe

Close-up picture of cumin seeds (Cuminum cyminum).

Close-up picture of cumin seeds (Cuminum cyminum). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I love a bit of spice. It livens up some really cheap food and makes it taste delicious – especially pulses and lentils! So I loved this recipe from ‘The Spice Routes’ – another cookbook from the World Food Cafe, which produces great ideas.

Egyptian lentil soup

2 tsp cumin seeds
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
Olive oil
2 leeks
2 beetroots (I used pickled beetroot, which needed using up!)
1 potatoe
200g red lentils
Hot water/stock
Seasoning
Lemon

Dry roast the cumin seeds in a pan. Take out and grind. Add dash of olive oil to pan, and fry the chopped onion and garlic until soft. Add ground cumin. Then add rest of veggies, all chopped. Allow to sweat and cook a little. Then add red lentils and enough water and stock to cover everything. Let cook until lentils soft. Add lemon juice. Season, then blend. I used half a lemon because the beetroot would have made it too tart.

Delicious! I’d heartily recommend that cookbook.