It's not easy doing the chopping with gardening gloves on. But it is worth it. And, amazingly, the kids even tried the results, a rustic nettle soup, camper van style. The only thing that was lacking, we felt, was a dash of cream. Never mind, when the main ingredient of our new favourite soup grows in every hedgerow you could ever look in, it's not going to be a problem finding it again.
As soups go, it wasn't half bad either, especially once we'd added some smoked bacon lardons. And yes, the family tried it. And said they liked it. So the whole experience was a success: getting Maggie and Charlie to try something alien and new, eating fresh, seasonal and local food (measure it in food feet, not miles) and trying out new techniques.
The way we made it was as important as the ingredients. We wanted to stay true to camper van cooking principles and make a really great soup without using a blender. As it turns out it wasn't so hard. We fried an onion, a clove of garlic and a cubed potato in a little oil for a few minutes. Then we added a couple of big handfuls of very well chopped young nettle leaves (just the tips of the plants - without any stalks) and a pint of vegetable stock. This we boiled for 10 minutes and then mashed as much as we could. Then we put the whole lot into a sieve and drained off the liquid. The pulp we mashed again and then reunited with the juice. A little black pepper, sea salt and then the fried lardons to finish it off and add a little extra salty flavour. Not bad! And only a few stings along the way.
TASTE: 8/10 for nettleness
CONSISTENCY: 9/10 for rustic charm. Good with a doorstep.
HANDINESS: 10/10 for being fresh and more local than anything. Totally sustainable.