What could be better after a long cold dive than getting out to a bowl of hot tasty soup? Well, if that soup was also a super healthy, vitamin rich, freediver focused soup, thats how… introducing Nettle Soup! The high levels of antioxidants and Iron makes for a perfect soup for freedivers.
500g Nettles (after par-boiling) – ( iron, potassium, silica, calcium, Vitamin A & K & D)
6 cups of water (from the boiled nettles) – (Rehydrate!)
3 shallots – (more antioxidants than onions)
1 large garlic clove – (Heart health)
1 tablespoon butter (or oil)
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons celery salt (or vegetable stock cube) – (Aids rehydration)
1 cup mini macaroni noodles – (Energy!)
Salt to taste (I used about a teaspoon)
On a recent trip to Bulgaria I tried an amazing traditional soup which we found out was made from nettles. Never having eaten nettles before I did a bit of research and found out that they are packed full of nutrients, with a long list of vitamins and minerals – most notably containing one of the highest levels of Iron in any plant (great for the blood). It is a superfood and best of all it is free!
Having discovered that spring is the best time for harvesting them, as it is when the most new growth happens, I decided to see if I could recreate it. I grabbed a pair of thick gardening gloves and went out to the Gannel River Estuary and picked a whole shopping bag of nettles, taking only the new, young leaves from the plants. Nettles grow everywhere but be careful to only use ones that won’t have been contaminated by car fumes or dog wee!
Preparing the soup
Still using gloves, you need to take off any of the thicker stems and give the nettles a thorough wash in cold water.
Par-boil the nettles in batches, removing each batch into a large bowl and adding fresh leaves to the boiling water (unless you have a giant pan!).
We had so many leaves that after boiling, I separated them out into two batches, one for the soup and the other I drained, gently squeezed into balls and popped in a freezer bag to be frozen for future recipes (nettles can be used in place of boiled spinach so can be included in many different dishes!).
Chop the shallots and garlic, add to the empty soup pan and gently fry off with a spoonful of butter (you could use oil instead but I think butter adds a bit of depth to the flavour of soups) until soft and golden.
Blend the par-boiled nettle, I used a hand blender but you could also use a food processor or even just chop by hand if you don’t mind larger pieces.
Add the 6 cups of nettle water (which can also be drunk as nettle tea if you have any leftover) and add the macaroni (you could use bulgar wheat or brown rice instead). Add the celery salt, pepper and salt.
Bring to the boil and simmer. When the macaroni is al dente add the blended nettles and continue to simmer. If the soup is a little thick for you add more nettle water (or tap water if you have run out). Once the pasta is cooked you are all done!
Some recipes crumble in a little cheese, or add a spoonful of Greek yoghurt for serving. You could also add extra veg like potatoes, carrots, broccoli. The one I tried in Bulgaria, I’m fairly sure, was made with chicken stock so this is another option. This is a really simple recipe that can be used on its own or used as a base for your own freediving super soup!
By Emily Donald