Lovage is an amazing herb, and has the more subtle aroma and taste of celery. Lovage leaves, the fresh smaller ones, can be mixed with general salad leaves to enhance the taste, which just lifts salad leaves to new heights. Or, as I did last week, on a rainy day, grab a large handful and make a comforting Lovage Soup.
Apparently the roots can be eaten, or you can grate them for flavouring in salads, and the seeds are very similar to fennel seeds. According to Wikipedia, one of the origins of Lovage is Italy, and I suppose all these aniseedy flavours of Lovage and Fennel just remind me of Sambuca, the Italian liqueur (with the treacly flavour and strong aniseed taste, made even more alluring by the addition of 3 coffee beans and setting fire to the liquid) which is one of my favourites, so wandering round my Kitchen Garden and crushing a few Fennel or Lovage seeds transports me back to happy times in Italy – but I’m digressing.
Back to Lovage. A useful herb, generally believed to be useful as an antiseptic. I have a yearning to learn so much more about herbs because they are such a natural aid to healing, and wouldn’t you rather drink, eat or spread on your skin something natural, rather than a lot of the man-made chemicals that we are given today (not that they are all bad for us). I love the fact that modern medicine has now realised that the ‘old wives’ tales’ had a good dollop of truth in them regarding using herbs, and now research into their uses by the medical profession is growing.
Just one more fact about Lovage – it is also believed to help with digestive problems. I’ll have to try Lovage Tea and see what it tastes like! Reporting back on that one!
The Lovage plant grows very quickly to between 5 – 7 ft (2 – 2.5 metres) in a matter of weeks in springtime, then grows throughout summer, the first stems hardening almost into canes, then in Autumn the plant dies down and totally disappears, so much so that once the debris is cut back, there is no sign whatsoever. In the first winter of my Kitchen Garden I thought “Oh dear – have to get a new Lovage Plant next year” but in Spring suddenly I noticed strange red spikes sticking out of the ground, and within days the plant had shot up.
I always make a large batch of Lovage Soup at this time of year, and eat some and freeze some. Serving it up for friends at a dinner party is entertaining – it is a very subtle taste when mixed with a good chicken stock and thickened with onions and potatoes, so see how many of your friends can guess the correct ingredient.
I love making soups, in fact, in winter, all I want for lunch is a big bowl of home-made soup. I just love nice soup bowls, and Erik likes cups with a handle – I’ve just seen the new big breakfast cup (very round with a round handle) in Black Toast by Emma Bridgewater, so if I can persuade Erik, we could have one each, his for soup and mine for hot chocolate. (Click on The Emporium if you want a look at the new shape.)
Lovage Soup recipe coming up. I hope you enjoy it and were as surprised by the subtle taste as we were.
Ingredients Method Notes If freezing, after liquidising the soup, cool and pack into cartons, label then freeze. Defrost the soup either overnight in the fridge, or run carton under hot water, drop frozen soup into pan and add 1 tbsp water and simmer gently till totally defrosted, then boil for a minute, drop to a simmer and add cream.
If freezing, after liquidising the soup, cool and pack into cartons, label then freeze. Defrost the soup either overnight in the fridge, or run carton under hot water, drop frozen soup into pan and add 1 tbsp water and simmer gently till totally defrosted, then boil for a minute, drop to a simmer and add cream.