Stinging Nettles Soup

You know something is not right when you look at a $4 bag of painfully stingy greens and think to yourself, “Man this would make a great blog post.” Seriously, that is not a good sign. Luckily for you, faithful Cookography readers, I completely ignored that sign and the painful welts I would later get, and charged ahead with the purchase and subsequent recipe.


Stinging nettles belong to the plant family Urtica dioica, which roughly translates to “Does not play well with others.” Nettles has stinging hairs that inject you with a blend of irritants when touched. Now isn’t this making you hungry?


In order to disarm the nettles’ sting, you can boil the the nettles or let it dry out. Simply sauteing it for a couple of minutes will not do the trick. Failure to disarm will result in nice “tingle” in the mouth and throat followed by a nice amount of numbness.

So, with all this in mind I am betting you want me to tell you that nettles taste amazing and they are totally worth the trouble, right? Well the jury is still out for me. With the soup we made, it tasted more like potato than anything else. I did taste a little onion though! It was a really tasty soup, but I bet you could use any hardy green–spinach, chard or kale, for example–and have pretty similar results. If I was to do this again I would probably half the amount of potatoes in order to give the nettles a better chance to shine.

I am also working on a Stinging Nettles Schnapps…but that is a whole other post.




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Stinging Nettles Soup


  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3 cups sliced onions
  • 3 cups potatoes, cut into chunks
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 ounce nettles leaves
  • Small bunch of chives, snipped
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Heavy cream, to serve


  1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the sliced onions, cover and cook for about 5 minutes until just soft.
  2. Add the potatoes to the saucepan with the chicken stock, cover and cook for 25 minutes longer.
  3. Wearing latex gloves, remove the nettles leaves from their stems. Rinse the leaves under cold running water, then dry on paper towels. Add to the saucepan and cook for 5 minutes longer.
  4. Ladle the soup into a blender or food processor and process until smooth. (I just keep the soup in a pot and used an immersion blender, love ’em.) Return to a clean saucepan and season well.
  5. Stir in the chives and serve with a swirl of cream and a sprinkle of pepper.

6 thoughts on “Stinging Nettles Soup

  1. my grandma made stinging nettle soup (borscht) when i was growing up in ukraine. however, she only used young nettles that didn’t yet sting, which is probably the cause of your discomfort. i recreated the soup using kale, spinach and lemon juice (due to lack of nettles), because the nettles should give a bit of a tangy flavor, and it was damn close to what i remember from childhood.

  2. Just had this soup while on holidays in Ireland…Cork to be specific. Our hostess pulled the stingy nettles from her back yard. The soup was lovely. The flavor was vaguely reminiscent of a light asparagus soup.

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