At least in Finland everyone knows spinach soup. It’s very popular, regularly served in schools, lunch diners, basically everywhere. While the idea of making a creamy soup from spinach (or nettle) might not sound too fancy, the result is still excellent. Usually the soup is served with halved boiled eggs dipped into the the bowl, so if you’re feeling adventurous, feel free to experiment with something similar.
The texture of the soup is neat, and spinach (and moreso nettle, which is even better!) is healthy for you, so this is truly an awesome soup for a very minimal price!
Spinach Soup / Nettle Soup
1 l fresh spinach or nettle leaves or 150 g frozen
1 tbsp oil
25 g margarine
3 tbsp wheat flour
1 l water
1 vegetable bouillon cube or 1 tbsp powder
2 dl oat or soy cream
If you use fresh nettle leaves you have to boil them 3-4 minutes before using. Chop the boiled nettle leaves or fresh spinach leaves. Peel and finely chop the shallot. Heat the oil in a pot and sauté the shallot until soft. Add the margarine, allow to melt and stir in wheat flour. Add water in batches, stirring well between, and bring to boil. Add the bouillon cube or powder. Add the spinach or nettle, bring back to boil and simmer 5 minutes. Add cream, heat thoroughly and season with salt and pepper.
We picked some nettles yesterday while bicycling around and today we were thinking of foods you can use it in. Nettle is a great source of iron and calcium (even better than spinach) and grows wild over here. Since you can use it to substitute spinach, it’s pretty easy to find a multitude of recipes.
A friend of us had recently given us a few packages of firm silken tofu, so naturally we came to the conclusion we should try to utilise both of these ingredients. Because we didn’t have enough time to make any slow-cooking food, we opted of a quiche. It was a good call, as it was simple to make and the results were absolutely delicious.
Nettle and Tofu Quiche
100 g margarine
1 dl whole wheat flour
2 dl wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp water
2 l nettle leaves
3 handfuls of dried funnel chanterelles
2 garlic cloves
2 tbsp oil
pinch of chili powder
1-2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
1 package (349g) firm silken tofu
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp Dijon mustard
bell pepper strips (optional)
Preheat the oven to 225 Celsius degrees. Crumble the margarine, both flours and baking powder in a bowl. Add a little water to form a dough. Grease a pie dish and spread the dough in it. Bake 10 minutes.
Boil the nettle leaves 2 minutes. Drain and squeeze dry. Chop finely. Soak the mushrooms in hot water. Chop the onion and garlic. Heat the oil in a pan and add chili powder. Fry half a minute and add onion. Sauté until onions are soft and translucent. Add the mushrooms and sauté until onions are almost golden. Add garlic and basil and sauté a minute more. Mix the tofu, lemon juice, Dijon mustard and salt in a bowl with hand held blender until smooth. Mix all the filling ingredients together and spread on the pre-baked crust. Top with bell pepper strips and bake 25-30 minutes or until the quiche looks ready.
I have noticed, that when the weather turns colder and days get darker I want to eat casseroles and soups. Today we made a casserole using things we had at home. It was quite nice, especially with hot sauce. But I think diced bell pepper, garlic and maybe olives could have made it better.
Edit: We had a lot of leftovers, and I added bell pepper and pickled cucumber before reheating. They made the casserole better, and I’ve added them to the recipe too.
Barley and Lentil Casserole
1,5 l water + 1 tsp salt
2,5 dl broken barley
2,5 dl green lentils
1 parsnip (150-200g)
1 small bell pepper
1 pickled cucumber (2 small)
100g chopped nettle or frozen spinach
3 dl oat or soy milk
salt an pepper
1 tsp marjoram
0,5 tsp thyme
0,5 tsp lovage
1 tsp paprika
Bring the water to boil, add salt, barley and lentils, simmer covered on low heat for 20-25 minutes and drain. Peel and grate the parsnip, chop the onion, dice the bell pepper and pickled cucumber. Mix barley, lentils, parsnip, onion, bell pepper, pickle and nettle/spinach in a oven proof dish. Mix oat milk and spices in a bowl and pour on other ingredients. Stir, cover with lid or aluminium foil and bake 30-40 minutes in 200 Celsius degrees.
Yesterday’s leftover nettle crepes turned into lentil filled rolls today. They were good, but they could have been better. The taste of celery was a bit overwhelming, I think I’ll substitute it something else, like broccoli or zucchini, next time. Also less lentils and more vegetables could be a good idea.
Crepes With Lentil Filling
6 nettle crepes
1,5 dl green lentils + water for boiling
stalks of 3 onions
2-3 garlic cloves
2 celery stalks
1 tbsp oil
0,5 tsp each: marjoram, thyme and basil
1 tsp parsley
1 dl oat cream
0,5 dl nutritional yeast
salt and pepper (I used mixture of black, green and rose pepper)
Cook the lentils in boiling water 15-20 minutes or until they are soft. Chop the onion stalks and garlic, slice the celery. Heat the oil in a pan or small pot. Sauté onions, garlic and celery until celery starts to get soft, but is still crunchy. Add herbs, oat cream, cooked lentils and nutritional yeast. Season with salt and pepper. Put some filling on each crepe and roll them. Put the rolled crepes in a (greased) dish and bake 20-30 minutes in 200 Celsius degrees. Serve with salad.
Nettles should always be harvested before they bloom, preferably when they’re small. Which means beginning of summer is the best time for that. But if you cut them down, you can get fresh nettles all the summer, they grow back quickly. To avoid stinging, wear gloves and long sleeved shirt when you handle nettles.
Nettle is full of nutrients, tastes like spinach and it’s free. Nettle is filled with calcium and iron, but it can contain big amounts of nitrates too, especially if they grow in manure. That’s why you should never pick them behind stables or places like that. Pick your nettles from a clean place, and boil them for few minutes to get rid of the nitrates. After boiling the nettles won’t sting, which makes them easier to handle too. Both leaves and stalks are edible, but if the nettle isn’t very very small, the stalk can be hard. I usually use only the leaves and discard the stalks.
You can cook nettle the same way you cook spinach. We had some nettle crepes today.
We filled them with sautéed carrots, cabbage and chickpeas, and fresh tomato slices and basil. Other savory fillings would be good too, like mushroom salad or beans and grains. We didn’t eat the whole pile, so we’ll have them for dinner tomorrow too, but with other fillings.
2 l nettle leaves
water for boiling
1 l unflavoured soy (or oat) milk
6 dl wheat flour
OR 3 dl wheat flour and 3 dl barley flour
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp oil
margarine or oil for frying
Whisk milk and flour together and let sit about half an hour. Meanwhile rinse the nettles and boil them 3-4 minutes. Rinse with cold water and chop finely. Whisk chopped nettles, salt and oil to the milk and flour mix. Melt the margarine in a hot frying pan and scoop or pour a thin layer of batter on the pan. Ladle is handy for this. Flip the crepe when the top of crepe is dry and bottom is browned (lift the edge to peek the bottom), and fry until the other side is browned too. Fry the rest of the batter same way and serve with fillings of your choice.