What is better than a warm cup of chicken noodle soup on a cool crisp day? I'll tell you. It's the same chicken noodle soup your grandma used to make with one extra ingredient which I refer to as a "ditch food". I'll come back to the soup, but first, you and I are going on a trip. You're walking along and you happen upon this plant which you have probably passed 100 times and had no idea that what was growing in a nearby ditch was not only edible but medicinal in many ways. Stinging Nettle. Don't go to grabbing at it just yet because it's called "Stinging" Nettle for a reason. This plant may be considered an annoyance for many because brushing up against it can prove to be an unpleasant experience. With that kind of reputation, I was slightly intimidated when I set out to try and locate a plant to photograph. Some people are lucky enough to have Nettle (I'm leaving out the Stinging part to psych myself up for this) in their backyard, but the conditions have to be appropriate and the only thing growing in my yard are weeds that we refer to as grass and a small vegetable garden. I had some reservations going into this mission. It was a mixture of fear due to the fact that I've managed to make it 40 years and have only been stung by 1 asshole wasp and no matter what you may have heard, I DID NOT call my mother crying to tell her that everyone was right, and it does hurt like hell. I also had this Little Shop of Horrors-esque mental image floating around in my brain. I had decided already that when I walked up on the plant, it would see me for the meaty morsel I am, and gobble me right up on the spot. As luck would have it, I didn't have to go very far before I saw it, and it there it sat all nice and seemingly docile. I had no intentions of touching it, and let me advise you that if you plan to harvest your own plants, wear gloves that will protect you. You see, the plant is covered with tiny hairs filled with chemicals like histamine and formic acid among others, and when they sting, those chemicals can be quite irritating to the skin. Lucky for me, I was just looking for a photo because I had already acquired dried nettles from Sacred Garden Herbs. So, here you can see the Stinging Nettle plant. Doesn't look so tough now does it? THEN YOU GRAB IT! As for me, I want to keep my tough girl image intact so I took the photo I set out to obtain and left the processing of the nettle up to the pros at Sacred Garden Herbs. I repeat, I DID NOT call after the wasp incident I tell ya! Moving on.
THE BENEFITS OF STINGING NETTLE
Stinging nettle is a fantastic detoxifier of the body and improves your metabolic function. THANK GOODNESS RIGHT! All this immune system talk, and finally something that tells my system to be 20-something again. Okay, maybe it's not that magical, but it does have the ability to give you some balance. When I first began using stinging nettle, I did so to try and regulate my menstrual cycle which had been insanely out of whack since having baby number 3. I also, at age 39, was experiencing crazy hot flashes and felt that it was entirely too soon to have to deal with that. I spent some time doing research on the effects of the plant and with the wide array of benefits, it seemed like a bit of a no-brainer to add to my diet. I found out that Stinging Nettle acts as a coagulant and slows bleeding making it not only good for my issues after having little root, but is often used as an aid during pregnancy and delivery, and as if that isn't enough, stinging nettle stimulates milk production which is a huge benefit for nursing mothers. But, when I came across the phrase "regulates hormonal activity", I was all in. Okay, now does that mean the activity of my hormones, or the activity of ME when my hormones are eff'd up? Because I'll be honest with you, for about 5 days out of each month, all of my Zen goes out the fucking window, and whether or not I chop my husband into pieces and put him in the freezer is a minute by minute decision. He would concur. So overall, I have experienced a much easier cycle each month, decreased pain, and the man root hasn't had to hide knives in months (I kid), so if you ask me as to the effectiveness of this magic plant, I'm saying it's a winner. My father has now agreed to try stinging nettle to treat his Rheumatoid Arthritis. For a man that lives on nicotine and goo goo clusters, I'm optimistic. I'll report back on that.
HOW TO USE STINGING NETTLE
The good news is that once Stinging Nettle is processed either by cooking or dehydration, all of its stinging abilities are gone. Many people eat nettle leaves in the same way you would turnip greens or Kale (barf) I mean...Kale. Sorry, I do have a Kale gag reflex, and I'm not at all a picky eater. You can cook down nettle leaves and then sautee them in a little butter and garlic and have it as a side dish, you can dehydrate the leaves and drink it in a tea, which is what I typically do, or you can make a tincture and use it in that way. If all of this seems a little too much work, or you simply don't have the time, I would suggest visiting Sacred Garden Herbs Etsy shop to pick up what you need. I wasn't ready for the foraging process at the time and wasn't really sure if I would recognize the plant if I came upon it, so that's exactly what I did. They were very helpful and even though I am confident in my ability to locate and harvest stinging nettle, I will most likely stick with having it delivered to my front door via my nice mailer man who honks the horn when I have a package.
NOW ON TO THE SOUP!
Earlier this week I made a post about bone broth. Go grab it because this is one of those recipes where you will be happy you have it on hand as it adds so much more flavor and healthy vitamins and minerals that store-bought broth doesn't have. However, if you must use store bought broth, I recommend an organic free range chicken broth. Listen, guys, I know a lot of you are vegetarian and I totally respect that, and for you all, I suggest just converting this recipe into a vegetable base and omitting the chicken. Still sounds good to me!
- 2 Tbsp of Olive Oil
- 2 Quarts of Bone Broth (or store bought)
- 2 carrots chopped
- 2 large ribs of celery chopped
- A handfull of mushrooms of any type (optional)
- 1/4 cup of dried Stinging Nettle
- 2 cloves of garlic minced
- 2 cooked and shredded chicken breast from a healthy source
- 1 handful of Flat Leaf Parsley
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- 12 oz of whatever pasta you prefer. My roots like bowtie noodles. Middle root says they are sophisticated.
To a Dutch oven, add a couple of tablespoons of Olive Oil heating to medium-high heat. Add your chopped veggies. Sautee for 5-7 minutes to bring out the flavor of the veggies and allow them to soften a bit. Add in your garlic and continue to saute for 2 more minutes. Pour in your broth, nettles, and salt & pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce your heat, leaving your soup to boil gently for 10 minutes. Add your noodles and cook for an additional 10 minutes until noodles are soft. This may have to be adjusted depending on the type of noodles you prefer. Add chopped parsley on top and away you go! If at any time during the cooking process, you feel as though your broth is lower than you like, feel free to add a cup or two of your broth. For me, two quarts was plenty, but it really depends on the amount of veggies you prefer and the type of noodles you choose.
DON'T FORGET TO ENJOY THE PROCESS!
As with everything else I write about and share with you all, the most important part is to enjoy the process of what you are doing. If you come across something on here and it feels like work or you don't think you will enjoy it, for goodness sakes, don't do it! I have found that for me when something becomes "work" it stops being enjoyable and becomes a chore. This life is too short to spend all of your time on chores. Let's have fun, and above all else, Live, Love, and Grow Roots!