Nettle Soup


Vibrant green, luxurious nettle soup made with nettle tops, shallots, celery, potatoes, stock, cream.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Have you ever eaten nettles?

The first time I ate them, they were baked, on a pizza. Wow! The flavor is something akin to spinach, but even better.

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The most classic way to serve nettles is in nettle soup, made with potatoes, stock, and a little cream. Luxurious and vibrant green, this soup is a bowl-licker.

By the way, you never forget your first encounter with stinging nettles. I was about 6 years old on a trail in Griffith Park in Los Angeles with my parents. My hand brushed against a plant alongside the path.


It felt like a hundred little needles poking the back of my hand. Soon, my skin was covered with little white bumps, proof of the pain.

What I didn’t know then, nor could possibly appreciate at that age, was how nutritious nettles are, and how delicious!

Nettles have been used as an herbal remedy for thousands of years. They help detoxify the body, they are anti-inflammatory, they can help with circulation, allergies, hormonal regulation, and prostate issues. (Read more about nettles at WebMD.) You can buy nettle supplements and nettle tea. 

stinging Nettles freshly picked for making nettle soup

Where to get nettles?

Given the sting factor, you won’t find them in the grocery story. You either have to forage for them yourself (they grow wild on almost every continent), in which case, wear thick gloves, and pick the tender tops before they flower, or you can sometimes find them at your local farmer’s market in very early spring.

They are harvestable for only a short season (a couple of weeks), so if you see them, buy them (or pick them, with gloves)! You can always blanch them and freeze them to use later.

Nettle Soup Recipe

  • Prep time: 30 minutes
  • Cook time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4

Fresh, raw stinging nettles sting! Wear protective gloves when handling them, until after they are blanched.

You can easily make this soup without the cream if you are avoiding dairy.


  • 1/2 large shopping bag of fresh nettle tops
  • Salt
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped shallots
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1 pound of Yukon Gold or russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 to 2 cups of water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme (or a couple sprigs of fresh thyme)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons of heavy whipping cream


1 Blanch the nettles: Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Prepare a large bowl of ice water. Wearing protective gloves, transfer the nettle tops into the boiling water. Blanch for 2 minutes.

blanch fresh stinging nettles in boiling water for making nettle soup

Use tongs to lift the wilted blanched nettles out of the pot and transfer to the bowl of ice water to shock them. Strain in a colander.

shock blanched stinging nettles in ice water bath

Cut away and discard any large stems from the nettles. (This should be easier to do now that the nettle stingers have lost their sting due to the blanching.)

You should have 3 to 4 cups of blanched tender nettle tops and leaves for this recipe. Any blanched nettles not used at this point can be frozen for future use.

2 Sauté the shallots and celery: In a 6 quart soup pot, heat the olive oil and butter on medium heat. Add the chopped shallots and celery and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.

cook shallots and celery to make the base for stinging nettle soup

3 Add potatoes, stock, bay leaf, thyme: Add the chopped potatoes, the chicken stock, bay leaf, and thyme. If using unsalted or low sodium stock, add one teaspoon of salt. Bring to a simmer and simmer for 5 minutes.

add potatoes, thyme and stock to build stinging nettle soup

4 Chop blanched nettles, add to soup pot, add water, simmer: Roughly chop the blanched nettles. Add 3 to 4 cups of the chopped blanched nettles to the pot. Add enough water to just cover the nettles and potatoes, 1 to 2 cups. Return to a simmer and simmer for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are soft and the nettles tender.

5 Purée the soup: Remove the bay leaves (and thyme sprigs if using) from the pot. Using an immersion blender or working in batches with a standing blender, purée. Return to the pot and take off the heat.

6 Adjust seasonings, add lemon juice, add cream: Add salt to taste. Depending on the saltiness of the stock you are using, you may need to add at least a teaspoon or more to the soup. Add 1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper. Add lemon juice. Right before serving, swirl in the cream. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Sprinkle with black pepper and garnish with a sprig of fresh mint to serve.

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WebMD on uses of stinging nettles

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Nettle Soup

Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

More from Elise

52 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Nathan

    Excellent. Sub onion for shallots, And just for fun I used yams instead of potatoes. I was worried that the yams would be too sweet, But the thyme saved the day. I did not did not puree. And the cream helped.


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  2. Urszula

    Substituted an onion for the shallots, omitted the cream and used vegetable stock instead of chicken. Pureed it only slightly with an immersion blender, so that around half teh soup was still chunky and not pureed. Turned out quite good. Would make again.


  3. Vlad

    Second time making this nettle soup. Substituted onions, garlic and jalapeno peppers for the shallots and celery. Also, did not puree. Quite honestly, I liked it better.


  4. Jessica

    Made it tonight without the dairy and with chopped lovage stems instead of celery. It was absolutely fantastic!!!!!!! A new favorite recipe!!


  5. Jessica

    Any thoughts on substituting lovage stems or leaves for the celery?

    Show Replies (1)
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