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Nettlesoup... and a bonus!

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ChrisFlanders View Drop Down
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    Posted: 02 May 2012 at 05:10

So where's the bonus you might ask? It's homemade "breadsticks", so simple to make!

Yesterday was the first day in a long time that it didn't rain. Time to take the bicycle for a tour. Then I noticed the nettles had enjoyed the abundant rain more than I did and were almost ready to flower. High time to collect some for a nettlesoup, never made any, but I know it's a "truc grand-mère" bodycleaner, ideally to be used in springtime. It's all Brooks fault, he began about light spring soups, so there, here it is, nettlesoup and a bonus;

1. Nettlesoup; Of course I didn't have gloves with me, but I had a few plastic bags. I used one of them to collect the nettles, let's say the 4-5 inch tops. Back home, gloves on this time, gave the nettles a short wash, then simply cut the leaves off with a pair of scissors.

Most of these soups with few ingredients need some sort of support, say a bodystructure. So, best to start with a traditional onion and leek and a pinch of dried chiliflakes. Let them sweat for a long time, like about 10 minutes on low fire. Then add a big starchy potato cut in cubes which will act as a thickener and enough chickenstock to fill the pot for 3/4. Let boil for around 25-30 minutes, then add all the nettle leaves and let them cook for absolutely no more than 2 minutes, or the soup will lose it's nice green color.

Take away from the fire and mix. Check seasoning and done. It tastes like a good vegetable soup with not very pronounced flavour. Remember, we did this for our health in the first place and for the bonus...

2. Breadsticks; The name isn't very correct since it's not made of breaddough. Let's call them soupsticks. You really have to be equipped with two left hands if you don't manage to make these very rewarding treats. If you have kids around that like to cook, let them make the sticks! Basically you need a roll of puff pastry and an egg, that's it.

Cut the pastry into around 1 inch wide strips. Put the tip of one of your indexfingers in the middle of one strip and start winding at one end of that strip so it rolls up like a corkscrew until it meets said tip of your indexfinger.

Change hands and now wind the other end in the opposite direction. It's easy as that and please don't try to wind them from end to end, it doesn't work. Put on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Beat an egg with a tbsp of water or a tbsp of cold leftover coffee (learned this from a baker). Brush this gently over the soon to become soupsticks. Sprinkle with nothing for the simplest verion, or, anything you like. I used white sesame seeds, "ajowan" aka lovage seeds which have a very mild thyme flavour and the tiniest amount of fleur de sel. Bake in the oven at 200°C/400°F until done and let cool.

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HistoricFoodie View Drop Down
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Joined: 21 February 2012
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 May 2012 at 06:14
It's all Brooks fault,....
 
I take responsibility but not blame!
 
Looks good, Chris. Similar to something I make using Kale.
 
Question: Shouldn't residual heat be enough to "cook" the nettles?
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ChrisFlanders View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ChrisFlanders Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 May 2012 at 06:23
Residual heat? Very possible, but this short boiling is no more than "blanching" to keep the green color. I'm not sure if it works when the plant gets older and probably has developped tougher leaves.
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Daikon View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Daikon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 May 2012 at 14:49
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ChrisFlanders View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ChrisFlanders Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 May 2012 at 05:20
Thanks for that link Daikon. They discribe the taste of nettles as a very good spinach but sweeter. All I know is that when you serve dishes with nettles, not one person recognizes them until you reveal your "secret" ingredient. It's a very healthy, delicious herb and not a strange ingredient in french cooking at all.
I just bought the spring edition of the french magazine "Saveur" in which nettles (orties) are used in these recipes;
- soupe d'orties à la Fourme d'Ambert; a soup made from nothing else than potato, nettles, vegetable stock. The cheese Fourme d'Ambert (my favorite french blue cheese) is mixed in at the last moment. They use 700 grams nettles on 1 liter of stock (=7/10 ratio in weight)!
- Bricks aux orties, chèvre et poivrons rouges; brick dough (or fillo) triangle packets filled with nettles, goat cheese and red bell pepper
- Cake aux orties et aux tomates séchées; savory cake (no sugar added) with nettles and dried tomatoes. Savory cakes are very common in France and Italy. A delicious accompaniment with some fine charcuterie, served with an apéritif.
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