Happy Soup (aka Nettle & Fiddlehead Soup)

Happy Soup

Seriously, this is the happiest soup I’ve ever made or had the pleasure of consuming. There is no other way to describe it. Perhaps it is partially the virtuousness I feel, eating local, wildcrafted herbs & greens in season. Mostly, though, it is just a great, simple soup. Click here to learn more about nettles (and allergies), and here for more about fiddleheads.

Recipe

(Based on the suggestion of the Friendly Happy Guy from Forbes Wild Foods at Dufferin Grove Farmer’s Market)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound fresh local fiddleheads, soaked and rinsed in a bowl of water several times, ends cut off.
  • 1 heaping, packed colander full of fresh wild stinging nettles, stems removed (remember to wear your gloves to avoid the sting!). (Sorry, didn’t weigh the nettles)
  • 2 onions, chopped (plus green onion, or the green shoots growing off an old onion if that happens in your house)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 2-4 cups stock (I used veggie stock)
  • Water
  • Sea Salt
  • Pepper

Directions

Saute onions & garlic in olive oil until tender. Add water if necessary to prevent sticking. Add cleaned fiddleheads and continue sauteing. Add a bit of stock. Wait a minute or few. Add nettles. Pour stock over nettles, and add water to just barely cover the greens. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 15 minutes, swirling/stirring to make sure nettles get wilted. About 10 minutes in, add the green onion. Add sea salt and maybe pepper. Blend. (I use a handblender, right into the hot soup in the pot).

Enjoy Happy Soup!

PS: some internet recipes for nettle soup swirl in cream at the end, but i really think this soup needs no enhancement.

Weeds as Nourishing Spring Food: Dandelion Greens

by Dr. Mahalia Freed, ND

Dandelions, ubiquitous indicators of warmer weather, are perfectly positioned to support our health – especially our livers – through the transition to spring.

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

The greens are deeply nourishing. Rich in vitamins and minerals including beta-carotene, B vitamins, calcium, iron, and potassium, dandelion greens have an alkalinizing effect on the body. These much-maligned weeds are safely diuretic, and contain nutrients that specifically support detoxification pathways via the kidneys and the liver. Additionally, their bitter flavor stimulates digestive function, from the stomach down to the intestines, including stimulating bile production in the liver. For those of you thinking of a spring cleanse, guess what? Dandelion is truly a detoxifier, as enhancing bile production allows for enhanced elimination of wastes from the body.

Find dandelion greens at your local supermarket, or harvest them from any chemical-free patch of grass. If harvesting, note that they get more bitter as the season goes on.

Allergy Season & Nettles

by Mahalia Freed, ND

Allergy Season Tips

Hay fever (also known as seasonal allergies or allergic rhinitis) is estimated to affect 10-20 % of the population in developed countries. Hay fever occurs when your immune system overreacts to airborne particles, most commonly the pollens of trees, grass, and ragweed. The unfortunately familiar list of symptoms includes runny & itchy nose, itchy, red, watery eyes, sneezing and congestion. People who suffer from seasonal allergies are more likely to develop asthma, bronchitis, sinusitis, ear infections, and other complications. Interestingly, there is also new research suggesting a link between seasonal allergies and depression. Naturopathic medicine offers a variety of treatments that can effectively manage symptoms and bring resolution, with individual plans drawing on nutrition, herbal medicine, constitutional homeopathy and acupuncture.  One of my personal favorite herbs is a star in treating allergies, and it is profiled below. Continue reading

Fiddleheads!

Like Forsythias in their opera of yellow, and magnolias in their pink or white blossom-song, fiddlehead season is short, sometimes only 2 weeks. Fiddleheads are wild, their joy fleeting, their origin and taste unique. The fiddlehead is the new growth of an ancient plant family, the ferns. While there are many species of ferns, the fiddleheads available in Ontario markets in late April or early May are usually those of the Ostrich Fern. Interestingly, fiddleheads resist cultivation (they prefer swampy edges of woods), and are one of the few commercially available wild-crafted foods. Fiddleheads taste like…themselves. Some people compare their flavor to a combination of asparagus, green beans and okra. They are great on their own, in pasta salad, in frittata, lightly pickled, with other delicious seasonal veggies. The joy of eating fiddleheads, though, goes beyond their fresh green flavor and nutrient density: There is also the satisfaction we get from being in alignment with what is local and in season – an intellectual satisfaction born of making an ethical, politically-correct food choices, but also a purely physical one, as we nourish our bodies with truly spring food. Increase veggie variety in your diet, join the local seasonal bandwagon, support internal detoxification: try fiddleheads this year! Below is a recipe to get you started. Continue reading