Spring is finally approaching. Depending on where you live you my start to see the appearance of fresh greens around you. Dandelion, violet, chickweed, and nettles are all great choices. Spring greens are known for their beneficial effect on the “blood” and liver when there has been several months of winter stagnation. They help us to detox, build bone, balance blood sugar levels and stimulate digestion. In the past they provided missing nutrients when food stores were at a point of near exhaustion.
This is one of my favorite cold weather soups. I love the creamy texture and the nutty richness lent by the addition of tahini. It feels nutritionally dense with the right combinations of fat, protein, chewy grains, greens, and vegetables.
Spring Green Greek Soup
To a large skillet add and saute until tender…..
1/2 onion finely diced
2 medium carrots finely diced
Add in and cook the grains until soft……….
6-8 cups of “chicken” boullion
1/2 cup of lemon juice
1 cup of millet
1 tsp of oregano
salt and pepper to taste
Stir in and cook for 10 minutes……..
1 -2 cups of cooked garbonzo beans
2 cups freshly chopped nettles or other greens
Remove and blend one cup of soup. Add back to the pot and stir.
Nettles are also a great for soup, pesto, smoothies, chips, baked goods, stir fry, herbal butters, and quiche. You can pretty much substitute them for any ingredient that is a leafy green.
Nettle is hardy perennial in the Urticaceae family that grows 2-7ft high. It has dark green hairy/downy (underneath) stinging leaves that are lance shaped with serrated margins. Arranged alternately on stinging square stems. The yellow roots are tough and tangled. The flowers are very tiny, light green, and on auxiliary clusters. It can be found growing in large abundant patches in the woods, along rivers, roadsides, in fields and cultivated in gardens. It prefers likes sun and nitrogen/organic matter rich soil. It does not like dry conditions. Male and female reproductive parts occur on separate plants.
Nettle has a nasty sting but it is strong and very useful medicinal plants. The young tops are high in vitamins, chlorophyll, and minerals making them a nutritious spring green that can be used in soup, stews, stir fry, pesto, and baked goods. It is one of the few foods that has vitamin C with iron for perfect absorption. This herb counteracts inflammation, supports the body to produce antihistamine, and binds immunoglobulin G-making it helpful for all kinds of allergies (food and seasonal). Supports the secretion of uric acid. It builds and cleanses “blood” for females of all ages and increase circulation. Historically it is has been used to treat anemia, internal bleeding, arthritis, rheumatism, gout, asthma, enlarged prostate, urinary problems, kidney stones/issues, poor milk supply, menstrual problems, heavy periods, colds, bronchitis, sinus infections, high blood sugar/diabetes, cardiac disease, high blood pressure, fluid retention, fever, blood clots, acne, yeast infections, hives, tendonitis, sciatica, poor circulation, sore muscles, night sweats, low blood sugar, neurological problems/infection, hypothyroidism and headaches. Nettles assist the body to clear poison and venom.
Humans have also used nettles for rope, cheese making, textiles, paper, dye, insect repellant and compost.
Parts used: aerial tops, leaves, stems, rhizomes and roots.
Energetics: cool, bitter, dry, salty.
Emotional/Spiritual Uses: releasing an anger that “stings” , establishing boundaries.
Contraindications: Eating late season plants uncooked/raw may damage the kidneys (due to high levels of nitrates) and irritate the digestive tract. The “hairs” on the fresh plants will inject an irritating substance under the skin that can cause pain and rashes. Handle with care. Most people consume this plant only by drying or cooking it. In sensitive/deficient individuals it may irritate the kidneys with prolonged use. Otherwise it is very safe for everyone.