Stinging Nettle and Potato Soup

It is early Spring and the week ahead looks as though it will be a return to winter. My mind turns to soup.

The Winter/Spring nettle is the annual nettle, the Urtica urens. It is thought that they are not quite as nutritious as the perennial nettle, the Urtica dioica, but they are still pretty good with an abundance of Minerals and Vitamins. The perennial nettle is only beginning its growth here now so if you have nettles, they will be the annual ones that I have cut today. I like them young and tender.


2 onions, 2-3 cloves garlic, 1 large potato or two smaller ones, a bunch of nettles, stock, salt and pepper.

I slice the onions and garlic and saute them in 2-3tbsp of extra virgin olive oil for a few minutes before adding the peeled, sliced and cut potatoes.

Stinging Nettle Urtica urens

Cook all gently until slightly browned. Add 4-6 cups of hot water, stir. I prepare the nettles by cutting off the tender ends and the leaves from the tougher stalk. Add to the above together with a tbsp of miso and/or tomato paste or other stock, 1 tsp salt and pepper. (I use the ‘Urban Hippy’ miso as stock for most soups.

A bunch of Stinging nettle tops

Simmer until the potatoes are soft then process in a blender.

The soup.

This is creamy, delicious and in great danger of being eaten before the weather returns to winter!

Late Winter Greens Salad

Late Winter Salad Greens 2021

On the top row, left to right;

It is surely a sign of Spring when these Dandelion Greens grow. They are tender and almost sweet. Next is of course the cool Chickweed, still great but starting to go a little leggy. More will still grow of course. The rosette of Evening Primrose’s leaves, second season prior to flowering are soft and sweet, followed by an assortment of beet greens – yellow, red and green.

The second row from left to right;

A new and most welcome addition to the garden and salads throughout the year – the Plantago minutina, a small plantain. These leaves are crisp, grow all winter, are perennial and produce thousands of seeds. What more could one ask for? Next to that, the equally welcome Miners lettuce or Winter Purslane. It is only around for winter and early spring so I make the most of it. Next to that and slightly higher is a single leaf of Sheep’s sorrel, sour, juicy, totally invasive but a great addition. Lastly and quite the opposite is the highly fragrant, Anise Hyssop that as its name suggests has a mild aniseed flavour. Outside here it is an annual but a perennial in my tunnel house.

The third row from left to right;

First the spicy Upland Cress, then Endive (a little bitter), early chives – always great to see these in the late winter, and crunchy Pak choi leaves and flowers.

The fourth row from left to right;

The young leaves of a giant mustard that keeps coming up, very ‘hot’, then the annual Rocket that grows well here outside in winter, new Fennel growth (chop leaves and stem), and Salad Burnet who adds a mild cucumber taste to the salad.

I finely chop these sixteen plants that grow here in late winter, add some small squares of avocado and feta cheese, all dressed with a garlic, olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing. It is delicious. Fresh, crisp and great tastes to stimulate any digestive malaise of lockdown or late winter/early spring.

A Women’s Health and Wellbeing Kete, Vol II

Book Launch Dec 18th, 2020 at Viriditas, Central Otago, New Zealand

Mary Allan and I launched our second volume of ‘A Women’s Health and Wellbeing Kete’, in the Viriditas garden along with 40-50 plant people, gardeners, herbalists, friends and family. What an amazing gathering – there were some extraordinary growers and gardeners and it was fun.

WE served Elder Flower fizz, Terra Sancta’s Aperitivo Botanica, (thanks to Sarah Elliot), a delicious Anthocyanin loaded purple/red alcohol free cool drink, but it was Anna Mathieson’s finger food (vegan) that excited taste buds. It is rare that I, in all my 40 years of offering courses about plants that a course participant has brought such amazing Vegan food to our shared lunches. Anna I believe, just has an innate instinct for what works. I also believe that any non-vegan would be astonished.

I don’t normally read a book after it is published but I have with this one. Yes, there are disappointingly, a few grammatical errors and ambiguities BUT today after spending time with my ‘go to’ tree and small water pool, I realised that I was looking for/reading for something else.

I wrote most of these ‘Plant Journeys’ during Lockdown in NZ in April, 2020, and the ensuing months of Covid restrictions. I became quite sensitized to this ‘Inscape’ and its complex relationships, writing as I was experiencing each plant, each journey, searching for each plant’s wholeness, its mystery, and doing my best to connect, respect and consider.

I see it now. Each plant is unique. Connecting with each plant is a journey. Each plant has its inner world and outer  in-forming.

Mainstream Science analyses a plant’s chemical complexity but its inner world is more, much more. In holistic Science all of the individual plant’s relationships are taken into consideration and what the plant expresses in terms of itself. Ginkgo written in this Volume II expresses this so well.

Quote from Volume II re Ginkgo Biloba

Lifting the ‘veil’?

You are able to withstand the assaults on the wellbeing of all that lives (nuclear fallout, pollution) your leaves are tough (not surprisingly), but to me you represent the brains of all mammals, divided but one. There is always a dual conversation that goes on in the human brain, the right side – creative, the left side – analytical. I am seeing that you bring these two sides together, as one. The economic world that sees that they can make profit from their products, harnesses one side but if we understand or at least try to then we might just glimpse what Goethe saw that we are one and two. This brings tears to my eyes. I see Gingko biloba as an ancient one bringing understanding from the past into today’s world, being a plant of healing for our time of the dispirit ways, a time to bring together the two sides of us, the right – seeing/thinking/creating and left – analytical. I now think it is a plant for today’s world, to cross the Natural world/Human world interface, the past/present understandings.

Ka kite ano, Isla

(More on 2021 offerings – next post SOON.)


November 2020
A knowledge basket is by its nature an offering for all

One of the pluses about this very unusual year was to write a companion volume to

‘A Women’s Health and Wellbeing Kete’ A DIY Guide. Mary Allan designed and edited as for volume 1 and has transformed it into a beautiful production.

This book develops further immersions into the plant world with a focus on Women’s Wellness including nutritional and herbal help for women of all stages and ages. Case studies are included to provide further insights. Its essence is one of always considering ‘wholeness’ whether it be about a plant or a person with a health issue.

Volume 11 does refer to the first Volume and while there is much that allows it to stand alone, these two books go together beautifully and would make a wonderful gift! 

“It feels you have revolutionised plant fact-sheets by creating a ‘fact-sense-sheet’. It opens up more curiosity rather than providing concrete, fixed answers. Fantastic!”
Roland Playle
Àiteas, A Delicate Empiricism: belonging and the Natural World

You are able to pre-order your copy now

Price: $40.00 (incl P@P) for NZ ONLY. For others please contact me directly.