So focused on having fun that we wouldn't notice the stinging plant our parents warned us about, until our ankles would brush against a nettle leaf and the sting would have us running to our mothers for help.
So I always wondered, who thought this stinging plant could be edible!
The nettle found it's way to my parents garden through a family friend who found it outside of Oakland. My mom planted it in her backyard, and every year around this time we make nettle soup for Chaharshanbe Soori (the Tuesday evening fiesta) which celebrates the last Tuesday night of the year before the Persian New Year, as it is accustomed in Mazandaran province of Iran.
Speaking of Nowruz, the new year begins this Saturday night PST. And for some delicious Nowruz recipe ideas please check the links below to some delicious recipes by my fellow Persian food bloggers.
1 cup vegetable oil, divided
1 large garlic bulb, minced
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 large yellow onion, thinly slided
1/3 cup dried chickpea
1/2 cup pinto beans
1 cup short grain rice
1 cup green lentils
1 bunch each cilantro, and Persian leek (tareh), cleaned, washed and finely chopped
1 large bunch nettles, cleaned and chopped (you can substitute with spinach if you can't find nettles)*
1 cup pomegranate paste or molases
* Make sure you use gloves when working with nettles to avoid the sting
In a small shallow pot heat 3/4 cup of vegetable oil over medium heat. Fry the minced garlics until golden and crispy. Set aside.
In a medium pan, heat the remaining oil over medium heat and brown the sliced onions. Add turmeric, sauté for one more minute and set aside.
Soak chickpea, pinto beans, and lentils in separate bowls for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.
In a large pot bring bring two quarts of water with rice and chickpeas to a boil. Simmer for about 10 minutes over medium low heat until chickpeas are partially cooked. Add pinto beans and let them cook until just done, about 20 more minutes. Add lentils and cook for 20 minutes longer.
Add chopped cilantro and leeks and let the soup simmer for 10 minutes uncovered. Cover the pot and let the soup simmer for 10 more minutes. Add fried onions and 1 tablespoon of fried garlic and pomegranate paste. Stir the soup and simmer over low heat until the ingredients come together. If the soup is too thick add some water.
Add the chopped nettles 10 minutes prior to serving. Garnish with fried garlic and enjoy
Note: There are many variations to this soup, some add beats, butternut squash, or fava beans it, and the soup is normally made with local northern Iranian herbs (zolang, anarijeh) not known to many even in Iran. This is a very versatile soup and feel free to add or change the recipe as you like, just make sure you include the nettles, since it won't be nettle soup without it 😉