Nettle Soup

Nettle soup serves 6

Around 150g nettle tops
30-35g knob of butter
1 onion, peeled chopped
1 large or 2 smallish leeks, trimmed, washed and finely sliced
2 celery sticks, chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
3 precooked large floury potatoes
1 litre vegetable (or chicken) stock
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
4 tbsp whipping cream (use 2 to finish)
1 small bunch chives, to finish

Pick over the nettles, wash them thoroughly and discard the tougher stalks. Melt the butter in a large pan over medium-low heat, add the onion, leek, celery and garlic, cover and sweat gently for 10 minutes, stirring a few times, until soft but not brown. Add the potatoes and stock, bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Add the nettles, stirring them into the stock as they wilt, add 2 tablespoons of cream and simmer for five minutes or so, until the nettles are tender (very young nettle tops will need only two to three minutes). Season with plenty of salt and pepper.

Purée the soup in two batches, reheat if necessary and check the seasoning. Swirl a little cream in warmed bowls, top each portion with some crispy smoked bacon if you have it and not going vegetarian and some snipped chives.I like to serve mine with a buttered potato farl as opposed to bread and keep it Irish!