Taking the sting out of war,ukrainian nettle soup

Traditional zeleniy (green) borscht, a light ancient Slavic soup using wild herbs nettles

I remember going on walks with my Dad when I was little and brushing my hands through the plants and getting stung. My dad immediately reached for a dock leaf to rub the stinging area.The nettle’s sting is there to provide protection from predators. The sting causes any predator that may eat the plant or uproot it to stay clear. More recently I have found a more positive way with nettles and the pleasure of foraging ones food and putting ones pickings to good use. Nettles have been widely used by the Ukrainians since ancient times. As it was a very common plant near houses and in the meadows, the stinging nettle was used as a food. Nettle leaves contain a high level of ascorbic acid (vitamin C), riboflavin (vitamin B2), tocopherols (vitamin E), vitamin K1, vitamin A, pantothenic acid, iron, potassium, manganese, calcium. The nettle has always been and still is a popular traditional medicine to treat and prevent different diseases, and also is used for the body detox. Stinging nettle leaf tea even in our days, is used as a gentle diuretic, and to stop urinary tract infections. It’s good for sodium induced water retention and it’s known for the ability to lower blood pressure. Soup with the stinging nettle is very light and healthy. In the Ukrainian ancestors’ lives nettles were so important that they took a big place in folklore. It was associated with the dark power, however, in the same time, ancient Ukrainians kept dried plants to scare away evil spirits. There are a lot of aphorisms, proverbs, and wisdom quotes, such as “Even for the nettles there will be frosts”, “Sometimes between nettles a lily grows”, and a lot of others.
Green borsch is a very popular dish in Ukraine. It was nicknamed the Spring borsh because of abundance of herbs and vegetables used as ingredients. During summer months, this borsh made with water is served cooled, in the winter months it is cooked with meat stock. Its name “the green borsh” is literal because the soup has a green colour. 
Customarily the main ingredient of the green borsh is sorrel, which gives it a bright green colour. Nevertheless, the other herbs as parsley, dill and bay leaf are also added. One might use any meat broths either chicken, or beef. 
It is not unusual that the sorrel and other herbs can be substituted by stinging nettle. So the dish will have an inimitable taste and smell. Traditionally the green borsch is served with sour cream and a halved boiled egg.
Zeleniy (green) borsch

30 g  nettle leaves  
2 litres  broth 
150 g cabbage 
5 g Garlic   
10 g Dill   
1 spring onion 
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 eggs boiled then halved
creme fraiche
Prepare all the ingredients forthe  wild nettle soup.
With gloves carefully gather wild nettle in ecological region, avoid industrial places and near the road. Wash all vegetables, greens and eggs with cold water.
Prepare thenettle leaves.Take only the best juicy green leaves. Don´t to take theplant stem, because they can be tough.
Simmer nettle leaves with hot water for a minute to soften and to eliminate sting.
Cut the vegetables and greens.
Drain the water and cut the nettles. Thet leaves won't sting any more.
Heat the broth in a big pot, and add cabbage. Cook vegetable for 10 min, on the medium heat, covered with a lid. The young cabbage cook for 5 min. Add nettles and greens, cook them for an additional 5 minutes on a low heat covered with a lid.


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