The lovely thing about warm spring weather is that it brings out acres of bright, tender nettles. Nettles are good for so much more than giving you a nasty rash. They make excellent fertiliser and they really get compost heaps composting.
Nettles are also delicious, nutritious and free. Try them in a quiche instead of spinach or parsley, add them to falafel mix or make soup with them. The trick is to wear rubber gloves while you're picking them and collect only the small tender leaves. Blanch the leaves in boiling water and the stingers will magically disappear.
Nettle, Leek and Potato Soup
2 leeks, trimmed
250g young nettle leaves
700ml chicken or vegetable stock
sea salt & black pepper
1/3 cup creme fraiche
Peel and chop the potatoes into 2 cm dice. Cook them in salted water for 10 minutes or until just done. Drain.
Blanch the nettles quickly in boiling water then drain them. When they're cool enough to handle, squeeze out all the water and chop them coarsely.
Finely slice the leeks and saute them in the melted butter until they start to soften. Add the nettles and saute gently for a few minutes. Add the potatoes and heated stock, bring to the boil then lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
Let the soup cool slightly before pureeing it with a stick blender. Season with salt and black pepper and stir in the creme fraiche.