In true-to-me fashion, I’m whipping up this post a mere 4 hours before the deadline for a fun recipe contest happening here in Halifax! It’s called FARM : MARKET : TABLE and is simple. Ingredients must come from my home away from home, the Halifax Seaport Farmer’s Market.
I spend every Saturday at the Seaport Market for my biz, Made with Local. There, I sling super-delicious and healthy granola bars that are made with loads of Maritime produced ingredients. I LOVE spending each weekend surrounded by my market pals and fantastic customers, but the winter there feels loooong, and as much as I love root veggies, seeing greens trickle on to farm stand displays in the Spring is beyond exciting!
Many of Spring’s first greens are celebrated, common salad stuff such as spinach and mesclun mixes, asparagus, and our region’s seasonal veggie superstar, the fiddlehead. But stinging nettle is not something I’ve ever really paid attention to before. I purchased a nice big bag of it from TapRoot Farms via Noggins Farm stand at the Seaport and my wheels started to turn. Spring soup. Vibrantly green. A light lunch that’s perfect for cleaning out the system after a weekend of indulgences. And healthy? Nettle’s been used for centuries to remedy inflammation, allergies, arthritis, it’s a diuretic, and is great for your GI system. I hate the word, but dare I say, superfood?
I meandered over to RiverView Herbs’ table, and picked up a celery-like herb, lovage. It’s pungent and lovely and also something that’s not usually found in my cupboard. I’m breaking out of my winter sweet potato/turnip funk in grand fashion here, folks! The other veggies in this soup are common soup culprits though, some white potatoes, an onion, and a leek, all gathered from Noggin’s Farm. I picked up a tub of my favourite locally-made yogurt from FoxHill and headed ‘er for home!
Here are the fruits of my labours – a soup that tastes as green as it looks, in the best possible way! Keep your eye out for these lovely, off-beat greens and let your mind wander. Get creative. With ingredients this fresh, let their flavours shine through and keep it simple!
Stinging Nettle & Lovage Soup
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped (Noggins)
1 leek, white and light green parts, rinsed and sliced (Noggins)
2 cloves garlic, chopped (Noggins)
3 medium potatoes, chopped (Noggins)
200 g stinging nettle, tops only (TapRoot via Noggins)
1 handful of lovage leaves and stems, chopped (RiverView Herbs)
5 cups vegetable broth
2 tbsp lemon juice
Salt, pepper to taste (I added about 1 tbsp salt and 1 tsp pepper)
1 cup plain yogurt, for garnish (Foxhill Cheese)
In a large pot, heat oil and butter and add chopped onion and leek. Sautee until softened, then add garlic and chopped potatoes and heat them through for a couple of minutes. Add in nettle and lovage to pot, stirring and incorporating it until it begins to wilt. Once it reduces down a bit, add the stock and bring to a low boil. Cover and let it go until potatoes are cooked through, about 20 minutes.
Remove from heat and let it cool down a bit. With an immersion blender, food processor, or regular ol’ blender, puree the heck outta that soup. You want to make it as homogeneous as you can. Once it’s all smooth and lovely, taste test, and add more salt/pepper/lemon juice if needed. This soup’s flavour is delicate, but should be well balanced.
Serve with a dollop of plain yogurt or a drizzle of cream. The colours and flavour are so fantastic and unique; welcome, Spring, and all the freshness you bring!