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Soup is a great way to use the nettles that start coming through in early spring. (Serves six)

Around 150g nettle tops

30-35g knob of butter

1 onion, peeled chopped

1 large or 2 smallish leeks, trimmed, washed and finely sliced

2 celery sticks, chopped

1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped

2 tbsp white rice,such as basmati

1 litre vegetable (or chicken) stock

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

6 heaped tbsp thick, plain yoghurt, to finish

1 small bunch chives or wild garlic, to finish


-         Pick over the nettles, wash them thoroughly. Melt the butter in a large pan over medium-low heat, add the onion, leek, celery and garlic, cover and sweat gently for 10 minutes, stirring a few times, until soft but not brown.

-     Add the rice and stock, bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.

-         Add the nettles, stirring them into the stock as they wilt, and simmer for five minutes or so, until the rice and the nettles are tender (very young nettle tops will need only two to three minutes). Season with plenty of salt and pepper.

-     Purée the soup in two batches, reheat if necessary and check the seasoning. Serve in warmed bowls, topping each portion with a large dollop of yoghurt and a generous sprinkling of snipped chives.