Recipe: “Curbing Food Waste” Liesl’s Nettle Soup

Recipe: “Curbing Food Waste” Liesl’s Nettle Soup

  • posted on: May 10, 2020
  • posted by: Kari Fetrow
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Hi friends!

Kari here and today I want to introduce you to a style of cooking a lot of us here at 21 Acres embrace: It’s called, “What’s left over at the end of the week and how do I make it delicious ?” We do this to: 

1. Eat cheaply
2. Reduce food waste
3. Discover new ingredients and how to use them

Cooking like this is definitely a useful skill to learn, especially now when we all have to spend so much time at home.

For this blog, I visited with Liesl, one of our co-directors here at 21 Acres, and learn how she takes what she has on hand and turns it into something super tasty and worth sharing. I started by asking her a question which she answered this way:

“What is in my kitchen? Sprouting potatoes, wilted arugula, an aging leek, and celery that’s been in the crisper drawer so long it’s started to grow again. Oh boy. At least the onion is still intact and the nettles I picked on the farm are looking pert. Time to use this beautiful produce before it goes bad and must be fed to the worms.” 

Liesl shared an easy recipe for taking all of these ingredients left at the end of her week and turning into a verdant spring soup. It’s so good, all of us should be so lucky to have left over produce that we need to use up to avoid food waste. Think about giving it a try.

If you are interested about how you can help to eliminate food waste take a look at this article we love from Grist

Liesl’s Nettle Soup
Serves 4


1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1 large leek, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
3 small russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
About 1-2 quarts stock – veg, chicken or anything you’ve got on hand, I actually made stock for this because I was out. Add more for heartier servings. 
2 bunches wilted arugula
about 1/3 lb. fresh nettles
oil for sauteing
salt + pepper
other herbs and spices to taste – I used a touch of french tarragon tonight


Step 1: My stockpile of frozen stock is depleted so I start by boiling the celery leaves and leek top in a pot and toss in the veggie pieces, (more leek, carrots, asparagus butts, and onion bits) I’ve been hoarding in a gallon ziploc in the freezer for the past few weeks. Toss in a few stems of fresh herbs for good measure and I boil for about 30 minutes while I prep the rest of the ingredients and put my feet up.

Step 2: Strain this mixture and pour my stock into a jar for now. 

Step 3: Chopped onion, celery, and leek go into the pot with a bit of oil. Saute on medium until fragrant and just starting to brown. Add chopped potato, stock, herbs, salt, and pepper. Bring to a simmer with a lid on your pot and cook until the potatoes are very tender – probably about 15-20 minutes. 

Step 4: Remove the pot from heat. Add the arugula and nettles – be sure to use tongs or heavy gloves as the nettles still sting before being neutralized by the hot water. Allow the greens to wilt in the hot soup for 2 or 3 minutes. 

Step 5: Using an immersion blender, blend until smooth. As always, you can also puree in your blender but be cautious as you transfer and blend the hot soup. Finish with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot, or, chill and serve as a cold soup.

Top with chives, sauteed mushrooms, a squeeze of lemon, truffle oil, a dollop of yogurt or sour cream if you got it…lots of options here to zhuzh up your bowl. 

If you need more sustenance, I’m pacifying one member of the household by pairing this vegan soup with Tafoni Bakehouse carrot bread crostini topped with Lost Peacock chevre, arugula-dandelion pesto and garlic-roasted pork loin. (Read as chevre from the freezer, the leftover stub of meat from Sunday and the pesto I just made because, confession, I actually had 4 bunches of arugula I let wilt in my refrigerator!)