There's something very satisfying about picking and eating pernicious ‘weeds’ such as nettles. They can spring up anywhere, and even grow on waste ground.

However the caterpillars of a number of butterflies rely on nettles, so if you're able to leave some plants for them to eat, you'll have butterflies hatching and flying in your garden later in the year.

The hairs can give you a nasty sting, so wear gardening gloves. Pick the young leaves or whole shoots from February to June, but avoid older plants, especially those that have flowered as they'll be tough.

Nettles. © Getty

Nettle leaves contain high levels of vitamins A and C, and iron, are 5.5% protein and are used by herbalists to lower blood pressure.

This gorgeous, velvet-green soup has a mineral taste, like strong spinach, and you'll be pleased to know that all the stinging hairs vanish during the cooking process.

Wild garlic pesto. © DUSAN ZIDAR/


  • Nettle leaves
  • Stock, or milk
  • Cream
  • Garlic
  • Potato
  • Olive oil


  • STEP 1

    Collect your nettle leaves. Cut off the tough stalks and then sweat gently with olive oil until the leaves become soft.

    Nettle leaves. © Sanjida O'Connell
    Nettle leaves. © Sanjida O'Connell
  • STEP 2

    Add a clove of greased garlic and a diced potato and cover with stock. Simmer for 20 minutes.

    Add garlic and diced potato, © Sanjida O'Connell
    Add garlic and diced potato. © Sanjida O'Connell
  • STEP 3

    Liquidise the soup and add some stock, soya milk, or dairy milk to thin it to a consistency you require. Serve with a dash of cream.

    Nettle soup. © Sanjida O'Connell
    Nettle soup. © Sanjida O'Connell

The recipe originally appeared in BBC Wildlife Magazine. Look inside the current issue and find out how to subscribe.

Main image: Nettle soup. © Sanjida O'Connell


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