Nettle the Greek

Kinteata (in Pontiac dialect) is a favorite food of the Pontian Greeks. In the ancient Greek language, the nettle plant was called knidis, a word from which the name of the soup etymologically derives. The use of nettle as a medicinal plant dates back to Ancient Greece, where it was used as a diuretic and laxative. Hippocrates (460-377 BC) mentioned 61 natural remedies based on nettle, characterizing it as a “panacea”, which means it fits for all diseases.

Nettle is rich in mineral salts, such as calcium, copper, chlorine, potassium, silicon, sodium, iron. The decoction of the stinging nettle species (Urtica urens), which is also found in Greece, has been shown to be an excellent diuretic and acts against gallstones and uric acid, while the juice of its seeds stops bleeding. Nettles thrive in cool places and near rivers or springs. During spring and the period between the end of autumn and the beginning of winter nettles are tender and tasty (Ρηγάτος, 2001).

Nettle is a wild herb which is found in abundance in the Greek flora, but it is good to collect it with care and respect. When someone is going to collect nettles, it is recommended to use protective gloves, because if it contacts the skin, it causes severe itching. It is also good to cut only the tops of the plant with gardening shears and not uproot it. In this way, we show respect to a beneficial to humans plant, which if is not uprooted, it will in short time renew itself by producing new tender tops. Nettle seeds are used to make exquisite medicinal teas. Even if you suffer from gluten intolerance, you can enjoy kinteata, since they do not contain gluten and are a very nutritious and healthy soup that is cooked quickly and easily.

Kinteata is a popular soup especially during periods of fasting. Characteristically, kinteata is a bright green soup thick in texture, made from the tender tops of nettles and fresh mint or garlic, traditionally sprinkled with chili flakes or freshly ground black pepper and ideally bound with corn flower or corn flour.

Ingredients necessary for the preparation of the soup are 1 kilo of green nettles, half a spoon of chopped mint, 5 cloves of garlic (optional), 5 spoons of corn flour and salt. Wash the nettles, boil them with 3 glasses of water and drain them, while keeping a part of the boiling broth. Put them in a saucepan, add flour to the broth and stir until the nettles melt and take the form of a cream. We have to boil on low heat all the time and at the end we add a little oil and boil for another 5 minutes, stirring constantly and being careful not to burn from the thick porridge that boils. The meal is served hot with a sparkle of pepper of your desire.

Photos by Chatzisavva Kiki
Ρηγάτος, Α.Γ. (2001). Τα βότανα στον πολιτισμό των Ελλήνων. Αθήνα: Διαχρονικές Εκδόσεις Α.Ε.