Wild Irish Nettle Soup

? 12 oz nettle leaves and young, tender stems (use gloves to collect)
? 3-4 oz butter
? 6 oz (2 oz each) leek, onion and celery, roughly chopped
? 2.5 pints chicken stock
? 1.5 lbs potatoes, sliced
? .75 pint cream
? Salt and freshly ground black pepper

From the Ashford Castle Hotel – County Mayo, Ireland Wash the nettles.

Melt 3 oz of the butter in a heavy based pan and sweat the leek, onion, celery and the nettles for 5 to 6 minutes without browning. Add the chicken stock and bring to the boil, then add the potatoes. Cook over a low heat for about 40 to 50 minutes. Put soup in blender and puree, then return it to the pan, and add the cream.

Salt and pepper to taste, reheat gently and check the consistency.

Some extra butter may be whisked in for a richer, smoother finish. Garnish each serving with a blanched nettle leaf. Serves 8

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