I grew up in a scenic part of the North West of Tasmania, very close to Mt. Roland. I used to spend many happy days on the farm with my grandmother, and she would often tell me about the "moods of the mountain". She was referring to the beautiful shades of blue, pink, orange, red and purple the mountain would shine in the sunset. Cooking this week has reminded me a lot of my grandma, and I truly hope that you may find some sort of comfort in my food that she gave me in hers.
After such a lovely sunny weekend the weather has once again turned grey and cold. To remedy such a steely day I have made a warm thick soup to ward off winter.
You may well wonder why I called this dish "Tarkine Soup", though these two ideas don't usually go hand in hand I could think of no better description for the shade of green this glossy soup became.
I think nettles are such an underrated ingredient these days, a certain amount of care does need to be taken so you don't end up with tingling hands, but the reward of the unique earthy flavour in this soup is just so worth it!
Tarkine Soup (Ham and Nettle Soup)
1 carrot, roughly diced
1 medium leek, sliced (only use the white part)
2 sticks celery, roughly diced
1L vegetable stock
200g Harvest Feast stinging nettles, well washed
1 cup frozen peas
1 medium potato (I used Bintji), halved lengthways
2 Tbs ghee
Heat the ghee in a large saucepan or pot on a med-high heat, add in the celery, carrot and leek and stir occasionally until the vegetables soften slightly. Place the ham hock on top of the veggies and pour in the stock so that it just covers the meat. Bring the soup up to a simmer then reduce heat to low, place the lid on slightly askew, and simmer for 1 and a half hours. Add the potato to the soup and simmer gently for a further 30 minutes.
In the meantime separate the leaves from the stems of the nettles (because I didn’t have thick gloves I held the nettle stems with tongs and cut off the leaves with kitchen shears, this might look a little awkward but it’s better than getting stung!) discard the stems and put the leaves to one side.
Take out the ham hock from the broth, remove the skin and bone then shred the meat. Add the peas and nettle leaves to the soup and stir for two minutes. Remove the soup from the heat and allow to cool slightly before blending with a stick blender. Be careful not to splash yourself with hot liquid! When the soup is smooth, add in the ham and stir through.
Simply serve with a nice crack of black pepper and a crusty roll.