Lovage is a traditional British herb that comes into season over the summer months. Although more popular south of the border, it is beginning to make a comeback here in Scotland and can be seen in many restaurants in the form of tarts and pesto.
The leaves can be used in salads or to make broth, and the roots can be eaten as a vegetable or grated for use in salads. Its flavour and smell is similar to celery and the seeds can be used as a spice in the same way you’d use fennel seeds.
A great way to enjoy the unique, slightly curried celery flavour is in a light summer soup. It may be simple but it packs a real tastebud punch!
I find it surprising that lovage isn’t grown as a mainstream herb; it’s still quite hard to get hold of. However, it is very easily grown from seed and is quite hardy so will survive our ‘anything but consistent’ spring/summer weather.
If you do grow your own you may find after a burst of sunshine you will have more than you can handle. In the kitchen we pick it all and combine in with soft butter and freeze it for a simple addition to fish dishes and toppings throughout the year.
- 25g butter
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 1 stick of celery, peeled and finely diced
- White of a small leek, sliced
- A handful of tender lovage, stalks finely diced
- 700ml chicken or vegetable stock
- 2 handfuls of garden lettuces, roughly chopped
- 100g peas
- salt and pepper
- ½ cucumber, sliced
- 1 small handful lovage leaves, lightly shredded
Melt the butter in your favourite soup pot and add the onion, cook gently with the lid on until the onion has softened without colour.
- Add the celery, leek and the lovage stalks with a little pinch of salt and pepper and continue to cook in the same manner until softened.
- Add the stock and bring gently to the boil then reduce to a simmer before adding the peas and cucumber.
- Bring back to the boil, then add the lovage and immediately switch off the heat. Allow the soup to cool very slightly before seasoning to taste.
- Serve immediately.