Stinging Nettle Soup – 18th Century Cooking Series with Jas. Townsend and Son S2E6

Stinging Nettle Soup – 18th Century Cooking Series with Jas. Townsend and Son S2E6


It’s springtime. It’s time to pick stinging
nettles so you can make nettle soup. Stinging nettles hold a very special place
in 18th century food and medicine. Medical books from the time period mention these stinging
nettles as good for stopping hemorrhages and promoting urine flow. John Heckewelder was a missionary in remote
Pennsylvania in 1756 and in his journal he writes this, “We live mostly upon nettles
which grew abundantly in the bottoms and of which we frequently made two meals a day.”
That’s amazing. You know, I think we’ve got enough nettles, let’s head to the kitchen. I’ve got a good bunch of nettles gathered
here. These are early springtime nettles, the best ones, right after they come out of
the ground. You want to get the first half of the plant or first 3 or 4 inches. You don’t
want any of the hard stalk or any of the roots. You might want to wear gloves when you pick
these because they sting a little bit but in the early spring it’s usually not too
bad. Wash these off like you would lettuce for a salad. Now let’s work on the base
of our soup. We need to get some water boiling here in our kettle. I’ve got about a quart and a half or so here. And while that’s heating up, we’re going
to sauté some onions in a little bit of butter. This is about 4 ounces of butter. Hannah Glasse’s
recipe for meager soup calls for the butter to be cooked until it’s done making noise
and then you add the onions. We’re going to use about 3 medium onions. While our onions are browning, let’s chop
up our nettles nice and fine. We can take our chopped nettles now and put
it right into our browning onions. Well, we stirred these for about five or ten
minutes and now it’s time to shake on about a quarter of a cup of flour into this. And a little bit of salt and pepper. So now it’s time to add the contents of our pan to our boiling water. Many 18th century soup recipes call for a chopped up stale bread crust to be added to the soup. We’re going to let this simmer for another
ten minutes and then as an optional finishing touch, we’re going to add a little bit of this mushroom ketchup that we’ve made in an earlier episode. This soup is excellent. If you’ve never
had nettles before, nettles soup or any other kind of nettles, it’s the perfect time of
year, right now, to go out and pick them. All the things you’ve seen here today, all
the cooking equipment, all the clothing, all these things are available in our print catalog or on our website and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook.

56 thoughts on “Stinging Nettle Soup – 18th Century Cooking Series with Jas. Townsend and Son S2E6”

  1. That must be a different kind of nettle than that which grows around here, you would not use your hands on the local variety and I am sure eating them is unheard of. I am in Georgia USA.

  2. When I went to Germany with my dad to visit family when I was 6 years old. I had my first had experience with the stinging nettle there. Of coarse those nettles was almost as tall as me or a little shorter at that age. I think I remember my dad telling me different stories and things they did with the stinging nettles when he was a young boy in Germany.

  3. nettle is an excellent treatment food for gout sufferers.
    A more "modern" day recipe with stinging nettle is to blanch the leaves before cooking them.
    Take the leaves through a blender or just minced it very fine with the knife and in the meantime slowly cook some minced onion in butter or tallow.or lard.
    Add the minced stinging nettles and cook slowly for about 5 minutes (basically you want to heat it), add a cup of milk and a few minced garlic cloves and cook for another 10 to 15 minutes till the milk is mixed/combined in the composition. Add some salt and pepper and if you really want you can add some flour to make it thicker.
    Serve it together with some poached eggs/omelette and if you like it then you can add some cheese shredding on top.
    The version for religious fasting is just minced stinging nettles, onion and garlic. No flour, milk or eggs. It is still OK.
    The receipt is from my grandmother who also learned it from her mother (19th century :)).

  4. I'm trying to find a way to identify stinging nettles. I think I might have some growing in my backyard, and wouldn't mind making a snack of them at some point.

  5. This has been my first exposure to your YouTube channel. I loved it! Mushroom ketchup?! I can hardly wait to find it.

  6. This is amazing. This is what I think living in my hometown must have been like in 1800. Thank you for bringing this part of American history to life.

  7. İn our part of the world stinging nettles can be used for steamed dumplings (mantı), and I still remember the taste of salad made from it)).

  8. Childhood memories of falling into a patch of nettles… Eating them just sounds lethal. But I did not know you could eat these evil plants. Hmm…

  9. One question, sometimes I see you wearing gloves when handling cast iron kitchenware, and they look to me like modern security gloves. Were some sort of gloves used back then or do you wear those for safety reasons? I have looked into antique kitchen setups and mos sources say some kind of rag was used as oven mitt and heat protection most of the time. Are gloves like yours historically correct or is it just a safer way to handle a situation that back then was just not considered unsafe?

  10. Nettles have a higher nutrient content per g than any of the cultivated plants, even the "superfood" broccoli.
    It bothers me that no one has ever tried cultivating nettles in order to get the poison out of the plant.

    My grandparents regularly collected a few ripe stinging nettles to dry them and then make a tea a few days/weeks later. With some lemon and honey.

  11. If you want to avoid stinging your fingers on the nettles while you are chopping them, blanch them first. You can also freeze the blanched nettles, for use when nettles are out of season.
    You can also make dried nettles, just dry them out more or less like you would most any herb. Tastes very good in for example a bread.

  12. Nettles are great plants. They make for a great tea and soup. Used in a paste, it makes for a great ointment for your joints. I guess there are more uses for nettles out there. But these are the things I use them for.

  13. ANOTHER episode of Jas and Townsend… well hell yes, don’t mind if i do! (I am Latino, yo. Have to put this because of how my “peers” make me feel.”

  14. I’d love to try this… where to get nettles though🤔

    Oh, by the way: when you stir the frying pan with a knife it makes me go😖😬

  15. A stinging nettle recipe I've always used is throwing them in a fire so they can burn in Hell! I never dreamed they would be anything but poisonous. I might have to try your recipe after some research to ease my mind lol.

  16. Stinging nettles were also a remedy for asthma and breathing problems ❤️❤️ thank you for posting this

  17. 😂 come pick stinging weeds in Florida bare handed. Brother they'll have a grown man hurting and cussing😂

  18. I've eaten nettle soup and nettles as an alternative to spinach as a.vegetable every spring and early summer for over 60 years. I had no idea it was not a common experience. Why pass up free food?

  19. If you want to avoid getting stung, hold your breath. It sounds crazy but it works. Take a deep breath and hold it, then grab a leaf. No sting.

  20. I had heard of stinging nettles but didn’t know what they are. My undergraduate degree is in botany and my lifelong love is gardening. I was feeling pretty stupid. As it turns out they rarely are found in my state. I’m glad because I read that the sting is like that off fire ants. We have those and so no thanks, we don’t need anything else that stings!

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