Well, here is “Nettle Soup for the Mind” – a positive, stimulating and tonic mixture of green ingredients inspired by of one of nature’s most useful plants, the humble and wholly underrated stinging nettle.
On the face of it nettles are rather annoying because they sting. Very similar to ‘green people’ who apparently keep reminding us about things we would rather ignore. Unless you are allergic, (and there are some people who appear to be allergic to green ideas and notions), stinging nettle stings can in fact be quite good for you. Their built-in hypodermic needles with fresh, ready-made injections turn out to be helpful for rheumatism and arthritic conditions. Their stings contain serotonin, one of the ‘good mood’ chemicals.
Far from dreading nettle stings in the garden I quite enjoy the occasional sting as it seems uplifting. The Romans in Britain used to thrash themselves with nettles, a practice called ‘urtification’. Some say it was to keep warm in our climate (poor buggers), others say it was for remedial purposes.
Stinging nettles are multifunctional – they are an ingredient in soup, green vegetables, even haggis, dye, pesto, beer, shampoo, and host of remedies. They can be treated to make rope and cloth, cattle fodder and have very high plant sugar levels that can be extracted. I choose nettles as a perfect symbol of ‘resilience’, a herb plant to be highly valued.
Then there is also the colour of stinging nettles. It is just my favourite green, intense, dark, delicious in all its shades from the pale leaves of spring to the colour of nettle soup to the large, dark, late-summer leaves of the mature plant, often festooned with flowers like perfect pearl necklaces of grand, old ladies. Sometimes, when dappled sunlight hits a stand of nettles, they appear to glow green, as if emanating the energy of nature itself. It is no wonder that nettles were one of the original nine sacred plants in ancient Britain.
If you have just come here for the nettle soup recipe, you will find it on this link: nettle soup recipe
Then of course astrologically the nettle is ruled by the planet Mars. This planet is central in my own chart as I am an Aries (ruled by Mars) with Scorpio rising, which is ruled by Pluto, but originally Mars. The nettle then is to me the perfect personal plant, a bit off-putting to begin with but as you get to know it a whole world of useful and interesting things emerge.
‘Nettle Soup’ started life as an e-zine, which after 5 issues I never got round to publishing again, so I have turned it into a blog site where I can add to it at will without taking on the task of creating a whole e-zine.