Another cold, foggy morning meant that Sabasalads needed plenty of coffee and a hot breakfast sandwich to scour Green City Market today. Despite the weather, the trip was well worth it. In addition to more lettuces and young herbs, there were three new and notable appearances this week: rhubarb, french breakfast radishes and today’s winner, lovage (the leafy bundle in the bottom picture).
Lovage is like cardamom-infused celery, combining pepperiness and sweetness. You can use both the leaves and the stems (as in the recipe below), and a little bit goes a long way. Lovage is a perfect partner to onions, leeks, potatoes, and other root vegetables. Add it to your next mash or use the leaves to a stock and give it unexpected depth. Since the weather was cold, we made soup with leeks, potatoes, chicken stock and cream. The result was fantastic.
CREAM of LOVAGE SOUP
8 small stalks of lovage, leaves separated from stalks and set aside
½ pound small yellow potatoes
½ pound leeks (about 3-4 small leeks), greens removed
8 cups chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream
6 tbs Butter
3 tbs Flour
3 cloves garlic
Wash the potatoes but do not remove the skins. Then boil the potatoes in a medium-sized pot with the chicken stock until soft.
Meanwhile, chop up the leeks and lovage stalks. Take only the most tender of the lovage leaves and chop them coarsely. You should have just under a cup of chopped leaves.
Sauté the leeks and lovage stalks in 2 tbs of the butter over medium heat in a pan. When the leeks and stalks have wilted and broken down a bit, stir in the chopped lovage leaves. At this point, add plenty of freshly ground black pepper to taste. Continue cooking this mixture for a couple of minutes and then add it by the spoon-full to the chicken stock and potatoes. Bring all of this to a rolling boil, turn the heat down and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Taste the broth and add salt or pepper as necessary, and skim the top for excess fat (there shouldn’t be very much).
When the soup has simmered for at least 15 minutes, remove the solids, either with a slotted spoon or by straining the broth. Return the broth to a lazy boil and puree the solids with a wand blender or mash them with a potato-masher until smooth. Set the pureed vegetables aside for the moment.
Next, prepare a light roux with the butter and flour. To make your roux, first melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter in a skillet or wide frying pan over medium heat so it doesn’t burn. When the butter is sizzling, add the flour, stirring constantly until the mixture turns a light golden brown- about 5-7 minutes. When the roux reaches this color remove it immediately from the heat.
Then slowly whisk spoons of the roux into the broth. Make sure to stir well for a few minutes so that it doesn’t get clumpy. The broth should thicken a bit as a result of the roux being incorporated.
Finally, stir the pureed vegetables into the thickened broth. Add half a cup of water if necessary to thin the soup. A few minutes before serving, stir in the cup of heavy cream.
This rich, creamy soup goes beautifully with a salad of chopped radishes dressed in olive oil and lemon.