The herb lovage (levisticum officinale) is much more commonly used in Europe than the United States, but I’m lucky to say that it is a part of my herb garden. My Czech husband and I found it at a garden center in New Jersey, several years back. This sturdy tall perennial herb has come up every spring since, and lasts into early autumn.
Lovage has a flavor reminiscent of celery and parsley, so goes extremely well in soups and many other recipes. The whole plant is edible, even down to the roots, but in this recipe I use the stalks and leaves. Lovage is the star ingredient of this soup, along with root vegetables that add additional flavors, thickness, and a bit of sweetness. It’s important to use stalks with younger leaves, otherwise it can be slightly bitter. The recipe can be made vegetarian, or even vegan, easily.
- 6 oz (170 grams) lovage stalks with leaves, chopped (choose fairly young ones without tough leaves)
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 2 tsp butter
- 1/2 parsnip or small parsley root, peeled and chopped
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped
- 1 medium potato, peeled and small diced
- 1 small celery root (celeriac), peeled and small diced OR, 1 large stalk celery
- 1 medium leek, cleaned and thinly sliced (white and pale green parts only)
- 1 quart or liter broth (vegetable or chicken)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Optional: Sugar and/or lemon juice, to taste
- Optional: ½ cup milk (I use 1% milk fat) OR for more calories, light cream
Wash, dry, and then chop lovage stalks with their leaves, as well as the peeled root vegetables. In a large pot, melt the olive oil together with the butter on medium heat. Add the chopped lovage and saute until the leaves wilt. Add the chopped root vegetables and leeks and saute for an additional 6 to 10 minutes on medium-low flame, stirring frequently. Add the broth of choice and bring to a simmer, pot covered, cooking until the potatoes are done (about 15 mins). Cool briefly.
Using an immersion hand blender or regular blender (in batches), blend until all of the vegetables are processed smooth. Salt and pepper, to taste. If you’d like a slightly thinner soup (without milk/light cream), you can add a bit more broth, or even some water. Add a little sugar, if some sweetness is needed, and/or a bit of lemon juice for more acidity. The soup can be eaten at this point, or you can add the optional milk or light cream, to slightly thin out soup and make it creamier. Reheat, briefly, before serving. Makes approximately 6 servings.
Approximate nutrition info (per serving) using chicken broth, optional sugar and 1% fat milk: 120 calories, 3 grams total fat (1 gram saturated fat), 12 grams total carbohydrate (3 grams fiber), 6 grams sugar, 6 grams protein. High in vitamin A & C.