Wild Onion & Stinging Nettle Soup

A Soup post written by on March 3, 2014

wild onion soup

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Wild Onion & Stinging Nettle Soup

It must be spring in the corner of our hearts. I can smell the budding dream of a green, green April nudging its way through this tortuous, endless winter. Here, there, and everywhere – the proliferation of brassicas remind me of the season that never seems to end. My belly grows fatigued with a waning love for these familiars.

Perhaps it is this place that is making me restless. I find I’m at my best when I am away from it all, this city and its invisible enemy, its class struggles. A few hours on that winding route up the coast is where I find my escape, where I can smell the air that comes moving across that wide swath of the uninhabited Pacific. There, I can step on earthen paths, and see the struggle of plants creeping its way towards that oceanic edge. My favorite stretch of beach is around Fort Bragg. I remembered the place as Blackberry Heaven. Not this winter. The blackberry brambles have been stoically mowed down – completely removed to make way for native plants. Even in such complete annihilation and barren soil, some invasive, wild onions sprang up to stake their home. They grow cloistered in the shadows of a few short bushes, flowering with bell shaped blooms that wave in the sunny, salty wind. I felt a tinge of guilt in rallying for their cause. I know their invasive nature makes us natural enemies in this state, but I am always relieved to find their presence. If I was starved I could eat them roasted on a beach fire, salted with a few strands of freshly picked seaweed as the moon dips itself into the deadly, cold sea. I can stare at those sparkling waters forever. Perhaps my inability to swim makes the dangers of an icy bath seems so alluring, different.

I uprooted and brought those wild alliums home. They perfumed the car with the smell of dirt and half-dead onions, like funereal rhizomes. The blooms continued to flower for a few more weeks, producing new roots that clung onto wet paper towels, a temporary housing barely suitable for the living. Eventually I made soup out of them with the season’s first stinging nettles. A green bowl for green dreams.



Recipe for Wild Onion, Stinging Nettle, and Cucumber Soup

3 starchy potatoes, chopped

10 wild onion plants, flowers removed for garnish (you can also use 2 medium leeks)

3 celery stalks

8 c. low-sodium vegetable stock

1 English cucumber

1 lb of stinging nettles

creme fraiche, for ganish


+ Prepare the potatoes by scrubbing them and chopping them into 2″ cubes. Clean the onions by removing the dirt and outer layers, setting aside the flowers for garnish. Then, cut the celery stalks into 1″ cubes.

+ Cook the potatoes and onion root in vegetable broth for 15 minutes. Next, add the onion tops and celery and cook for an additional 15 minutes on a low boil. Meanwhile, cut, then puree the cucumber in a food processor. Set aside.

+ Remove the potatoes and onions from the broth and puree until creamy.

+ Use the broth to boil the nettles for at least 3 minutes. Remove and puree until smooth.

+ Return all of the pureed ingredients to your pot, including the raw cucumber and salt to taste. Add water as needed. You can serve this hot or cold, garnished with a dollop of creme fraiche and a few onion flowers.



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10 Responses to “Wild Onion & Stinging Nettle Soup”

  1. molly yeh says:

    you foraged these onions?! you brave soul you. i once tried picking onions in prospect park and my mom yelled at me over the phone until i threw them away. oops! 🙂

    • phi says:

      I got the same speech when I tried pulling wild onions out of our yard in Tennessee as a kid…. one of us actually listens to our elders. 😉

    • Valentina S. says:

      Bahaha I actually considered doing that too once, after watching a Maangchi video in which she picked wild onion up in Inwood Hill park. I decided I couldn’t be bothered to take the trip up there in the end.

      By the way Phi, this is awesome. Iàll soon have whole bunches of nettles growing in my yard,, and they taste great, so I’ll totally try this!
      I hope I’ll be able to visit SF and its surrounding at some point. It’s been on my next-trip-list for a while now. The wilderness there must be amazing.

  2. A sublime post today, Phi!. That stretch of “oceanic edge” is delightfully wild (my happy place too) and I’m sad to hear that the brambles are being tamed. Lucky you are so resourceful and foraged for wild alliums. Now where does a girl down in the tech burbs find a pound of stinging nettles because I’m aching to make this soup. yvonne 🙂

  3. Ahh I love that word “brambles” – so descriptive. Your photos and writing is so beautiful!

  4. Your photography is breathtaking!! I’m in the finalist for Saveur’s Best Photography Food Blog and I feel like ducking my head in a sandbox compared to you!! LOVE LOVE LOVE your blog! As a carnivorous Asian, me and my husband both loooove tofu. And you’re making this under-appreciated ingredient look fabulous. love love love……

    • phi says:

      mandylee, you are spectacular. ignore my photos. go get a drink. enjoy yourself. congrats, and did i ever tell you what an amazing set of photos you’ve taken?


  5. Jeann Liew says:

    Hi Phi,

    Stumbled over here via pinterest, looking for a picture of Shiso leaf *_^

    Beautiful writing and wonderful space you have here, and you eat really healthy! Nice that I have stumbled over here and I love the blog name.

    Have a luminous and lovely rest of the week (and weekend coming right up!). I have heard and seen so much beauty about San Francisco and it would be my dream to visit this beautiful city, one fine day *_^ Perhaps shall go to your favourite beach together? haha

    Sunny/Rainy/humid KL

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