As the flowers begin to bud in the early days of spring, it’s the perfect time to forage for nourishing herbs.
While they are often used as a garnish, herbs can make up a larger portion of our meals, providing many wonderful flavors and health benefits. If you've ever made chicken soup at home before, they're an especially delicious way to step up your homemade chicken soup game!
This creamy soup includes a number of delicious fresh herbs that can be found in many areas during the spring months. Some may be available at farmer's markets, but you'll likely be able to forage for many of them in your local area.
Use Foraged Herbs In This Unique Chicken Soup
Important note: when foraging for herbs, be absolutely sure of what you are picking before consuming it.
This soup includes sorrel, lovage, chives, and nettles. However, these can be adjusted to suit what is available in your area. Just be sure not to include too many bitter herbs or the soup may not be overly pleasant.
Other spring herbs that could be included are dandelion greens, lambs quarters, chicory, cleavers, and chickweed.
Sorrel gives this soup a lovely lemon flavor. This tart, sour flavor comes from the oxalic acid contained in sorrel. Oxalic acid is toxic in large amounts. However, it is considered safe when consumed moderately (which it is in this recipe). (Source.)
Nettles often grow in the shade close to the edge of woods. Much care should be taken when picking nettles as they can sting and cause a rash.
It’s best to wear gloves, long pants, and long sleeves when gathering nettles. Carry them in a basket or bucket to avoid any stings.
Young nettles are much better than older ones (which can be tough). To get the most tender leaves, pick nettles before they flower.
Lovage has a similar taste to celery and is quite easy to grow. Use caution when foraging for lovage, as it could easily be confused with poison hemlock.
How To Make Chicken Soup At Home With Spring Veggies
Spring is also a great time to grow and eat microgreens. I’ve utilized them here by sprinkling on top of the soup. However, they would also be wonderful as part of an accompanying side salad.
Even though they aren't a spring vegetable, I've included potatoes in this soup to help give it a creamy texture. You could leave out or substitute with rice if desired.
I've also gone pretty heavy on the garlic, which I think adds a wonderful flavor. But, if you aren't a fan of that much garlic, feel free to reduce as you see fit.
Lemon Chicken Soup With Spring Veggies & Foraged Herbs
Wondering how to make chicken soup at home? This Paleo lemon chicken soup is not only healthy and homemade... it also calls for spring veggies and foraged herbs like nettles and sorrel. Foraging for wild edibles is the perfect excuse to get outside and breathe in the fresh air, then whip up a pot of the best (and most unique) chicken soup ever! Nothing truly compares to cooking from scratch, am I right?!
For the soup:
- 2 cups fresh stinging nettle leaves
- 2 tablespoons grass-fed butter
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- 1 large onion chopped
- 6 ounces mushrooms sliced
- 6 large radishes diced (about 6 ounces)
- 1/2 small jalapeño pepper seeded and chopped (optional)
- 2 large potatoes peeled and diced
- 2 quarts chicken broth or vegetable broth
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 1-1/2 teaspoons sea salt or more, to taste
- 1 cup chard or baby spinach
- 1 cup fresh sorrel
- 1/2 cup fresh chives roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup fresh lovage leaves
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice about the juice from 1/2 of a lemon
- 2 to 3 cups cooked chicken diced or shredded
- microgreens for garnish (optional)
- bacon cooked and crumbled for garnish (optional)
Prepare the nettles by placing them in a pot of boiling water. Use tongs to ensure nettles are completely covered by the water. Let cook for a few minutes.
Once cooked for 2 to 3 minutes, strain and set aside. They are safe to touch at this point.
Melt butter in a heavy pot over medium heat. Saute garlic, onion, mushrooms, radishes, and jalapeño pepper until browned (about 5 or 6 minutes).
Add potatoes and cook for 1 to 2 minutes more. Pour in broth, paprika, pepper, and salt.
Bring to a gentle boil, then turn the heat down. Cover and let simmer until potatoes are soft.
Add the herbs and chard and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes.
Remove from heat and let cool.
Puree soup in batches in a blender or directly in the pot using an immersion blender.
Add fresh lemon juice, to taste (about 1 to 2 tablespoons, depending on how much sorrel you included).
Make the herbed sour cream by stirring the chopped herbs into the sour cream. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Refrigerate until time to serve.
Bring soup back to a simmer. Spoon into bowls and top with cooked chicken, crumbled bacon, microgreens, and herbed sour cream.
Alternatively, add all of the diced chicken to the soup and simmer until heated through.
Store leftover soup in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. The bright green color may fade, but the flavors will stay vibrant. Enjoy!
Looking for further foraging and herb resources?
- Traditional Cooking School's Spotlight On Herbs archive
- Botany & Wildcrafting Course from The Herbal Academy
- Free Foraging & Herbalism Mini Email Course from Grow Forage Cook Ferment
- The Backyard Herbal Apothecary by Devon Young
- Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Fried Sage Leaves
What is your favorite chicken soup recipe? Have you ever foraged for herbs before?
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