Creamy Nettle and Potato Soup
- SERVINGS: 6
At Manka's Inverness Lodge, in Inverness, California, chef Daniel DeLong uses local wild stringing nettles to give a tangy flavor to this light, creamy soup. Because nettles are prickly, use gloves while working with them. If nettles are unavailable, substitute fresh spinach or a combination of parsley and sorrel.
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- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 medium shallots, coarsely chopped
- 4 celery ribs, coarsely chopped
- 1 large leek, white and tender green parts only, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
- 1 1/4 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 4 1/4 cups water
- Bouquet garni, made with 1 thyme sprig, 1 tarragon sprig and 1 bay leaf, tied with kitchen string
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 10 ounces nettles or spinach or 1 bunch (5 ounces) flat-leaf parsley and 1 bunch (4 ounces) sorrel, stems and tough ribs removed
- Salt and freshly ground white pepper
- Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a large, heavy saucepan. Add the shallots, celery, leek and potatoes, cover and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 8 minutes. Add the wine and lemon juice and cook over high heat until evaporated. Add 4 cups of the water and the bouquet garni and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook over moderately low heat until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Discard the bouquet garni.
- Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender or food processor until smooth. Strain the soup into a clean saucepan through a fine sieve. Stir in the heavy cream.
- Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the nettles and cook just until wilted. Drain the nettles and immediately plunge them into a medium bowl of ice water. Transfer the nettles to the blender or food processor and puree them with the remaining 1/4 cup of water. Strain the nettle puree into the soup and season with salt and white pepper. Bring the soup to a simmer over low heat, stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter until melted and serve the soup right away.
A lively, straightforward and not-too-rich Chardonnay with no oak will highlight the creamy texture of this soup without overwhelming the delicate flavor. Choose a light bottling with notes of melon and apple.