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History Cookbook: Nettle soup

This recipe is in categories Prehistoric, Healthy eating, Soups and Sauces, Vegetarian
About this recipe
Healthiness : (119 votes)
Difficulty:  5 out of 5 difficulty
Comments: Nettles sting and should be gathered with gloves. ONLY use very young nettle tips and discard any woody stems or stalks.
Preparation Time: Collecting enough takes a while, store somewhere cool if you plan to make the soup the next day.
Cooking Time: 20 mins
Number of servings: 4
Serving suggestions: Serve with oatcakes and seasonal nuts or berries for authenticity.
This is a vegetarian recipe

This prehistoric version of nettle soup is tasty. The oats give it a slightly disconcerting texture though. Give it a try or, if you prefer a modern version with potato, follow the link to Modern Nettle Soup below.

Early dishes like this would have been cooked in a clay pot sitting directly on the ashes of a fire. Much food was collected or hunted and this recipe reflects this. Many greens such as dandelions, ground elder and lime leaves were gathered and eaten.

Only use young nettle tips, older nettle stingers do not easily breakdown and so should not be used.
  • 1/2 a basket of nettles, approx 1/2 lb (250 gm)
  • 1 1/2 pints vegetable stock. (0.85 litre)
  • 2 oz butter (50 gm)
  • 2-3 handfuls of oatmeal
  • sea salt to season
  • Knife
  • Saucepan
  • Stirring spoon
Making and cooking it
Always wash your hands before preparing food Always wash your hands before preparing food.

  1. Chop the nettles roughly
  2. Put into pan with the butter, heat gently until wilted
  3. Add the stock, bring to the boil 
  4. Turn down the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes
  5. Add the oatmeal, stir and serve
Related Links
Nettle soup - print view  Nettle soup - print view

If you tried this recipe and liked it, tell us about it
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Name: Summer Dugar 4th October 2017
I rather liked this meal. A little ummmmm... what do they call it crunchy for a soup buuuut is good. 😊
Name: Emma Sadeghi 20th August 2017
We use wild stinging nettles (picked with gloves!) for soup all the time. Cheap, easy, healthy and delicious - one of my kids' favourite meals! Looking forward to trying this to show them an historical version of something so familiar.
Name: Joseph Burke 27th April 2016
If you're using stinging nettles for cooking, you're using the wrong kind. There is a variety of nettle that has few or no stingers on them. That is the one you want to use. You can buy seed for that variety from some seed catalogs and grow your own. I wouldn't be too eager to harvest wild nettles, then you most probably will get stung.
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