Nettles can be carefully harvested to make a very good winter soup and immune system booster. They are high in protein, iron, vitamin A and C. It is best to grow your own and avoid picking them from verges or roadsides which may have been chemically sprayed.
Harvest tender, young shoots in the early morning and use gloves to handle them until they are in the pot. Cooking them will remove the sting. If the plants are older, you will need to clip the leaves and discard the tough stems. Harvest plenty since they will reduce a lot in volume during cooking. Leave at least a third of the plant in the ground so it can keep growing for future harvests. Wash the nettles as you would any other green leaf vegetables; just remember to keep your gloves on!
First, brown 3 chopped garlic cloves in 3 tablespoons of olive oil, then add 4 medium size, diced sweet potatoes (or/and carrots, pumpkin, potatoes, trombone, parsnips). Add finely chopped fresh herbs from the garden; I used parsley, rosemary and oregano. Alternatively, use dry herbs. I also added a few handful of chickweed which just happened to be growing near the nettles. Dandelion leaves would also be good. If you like a bit of extra heat, add a chilli or chilli paste.
If you prefer a creamy, pureed soup, just put the content of the pot through a mouli or use a stick blender. Serve with grated parmesan, fresh cream or yogurt, and crusty bread. To turn this into a main meal, separately grill a few sausages, cut into thin slices and add to the soup. Vegetarians can add a handful of brown rice during cooking. Healthy, easy, frugal and delicious.