I used to avoid nettles. They grew in profusion around the farm, choked the paths to the stream and made picking black raspberries perilous. Their sting raised red rashes on my arms and legs, and left white, itchy blisters on my hands when I accidentally brushed against them. But now I adore them. Every spring, as soon as they start to sprout along the hedgerows, I’m out with shears and gloves, snipping off the tender tops to make nettle soup.

A large bowlful of nettle tops, thoroughly rinsed. 1 or 2 potatoes – peeled and cubed. 1 onion, diced. A spoonful of butter. A quart or so of chicken bouillon.

Soften the nettles and onions in the butter over medium heat. Add potatoes and bouillon and cook until the potatoes are soft. Mix in a blender. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Serve hot or cold. You can add a dollop of cream to the soup if you want it a bit richer.

Nettle soup and fresh bread is one of our favorite meals in the springtime.