Nettle, Leek and Potato Soup with Garlic-Brown Butter Croutons
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: Serves 4 - 6
  • 10 oz (290g) / 4 packed cups young nettles, thick stems removed (or substitute fresh spinach or 1 box of frozen spinach)
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (or olive oil)
  • 2 large leeks (white and light green parts only), washed and sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound of Yukon Gold or russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2 inch chunks
  • 5 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons crème fraîche, plus more for drizzling
For the Garlic-Brown Butter Croutons
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1½ cups country bread, torn into 1-inch craggy pieces
  • Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
  • Violets, for garnish (optional)
  1. Bring five quarts of salted water to a boil in a large pot. Prepare another large bowl with ice water. Using gloves, strip the leaves from the picked nettles and discard any stalks or seeds (although you want to pick before seed stage: see note in article). Give the leaves a rinse to remove any dirt and then add leaves to the boiling water. Blanch until fully wilted, about 1 to 2 minutes. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, remove the leaves and transfer them immediately into the ice water. Stir them gently (you can use your hands at this stage) until cool, then drain in a colander. Roughly chop the cooled nettles and set them aside.
  2. Melt the butter in a 6 quart soup pot set over medium heat. Add the leeks and a pinch of salt, and cook, stirring often, until soft but not brown, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the potatoes, stock, bay leaves, and thyme. Turn the heat up to high and bring the liquid to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until the potatoes are fully cooked through, easily pierced with a paring knife, about 15 minutes. Add the blanched nettles and simmer everything together for another 5 minutes.
  3. Turn off the heat and remove and discard the bay leaves. Purée the soup either using an immersion blender or, working in batches, a standing blender (return the soup to the pot). If the soup is too thick, add water to thin it to the desired consistency. Stir in the lemon juice and crème fraîche and season the soup to taste with salt and pepper.
For the Garlic-Brown Butter Croutons:
  1. Heat a medium (8-inch) skillet over low heat. Add the butter and swirl until melted, then raise the heat to medium and cook , swirling often, until the butter turns light golden brown and smells nutty, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the bread pieces, toss in the garlic butter until coated and keep cooking and tossing until the bread browns and crisps in spots, about 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  2. Serve the soup hot, with a swirl of crème fraîche and some garlic croutons on top. Decorate with a few fresh violets, if using.
Recipe by Nerds with Knives at