growing lovage

In Love with Lovage

Lovage

Lovage is one of my favorite herbs. I feel like it doesn’t get enough attention. So many people have never even heard of lovage. It’s leaves taste just like celery leaves, so it is very useful in the kitchen. As an added bonus, it is very easy to grow- and it is a perennial.

I love celery in so many foods. I don’t think you can make a decent stock without it. I especially like using celery leaves. Problem is, often the celery I see in the store has few, if any, really nice leaves. The solution? Lovage.

Lovage leaves can be used in any dish you would use celery leaves: soups, stews, stocks and salads. The seeds can also be used as a substitute for celery seeds in recipes.

Lovage grows to a height of a couple of feet, except when it is in bloom. When blooming, lovage sends up stems that can reach 6 feet!

The stems of lovage are tough, almost woody. While they can’t be used chopped like celery, the stems are hollow and can be cut to size and used as straws in drinks like Bloody Marys or vegetable juices.

I’ve never seen lovage sold as a fresh herb. As far as I know, the only way you can enjoy this lovely plant is to grow it yourself. It thrives in sun, but will tolerate some shade. For a little effort you can have fresh “celery” leaves whenever you want. I also freeze plenty for use throughout the year.

Here is a favorite recipe of mine using lovage. Perfect for Spring.

Fresh Pea Soup with Lovage

2 T. butter or oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 c. fresh English peas, pea pods (sliced), or sugar snaps (sliced)
¼ –½ c. fresh lovage leaves, chopped fine
3 c. chicken stock or veggie stock
salt and pepper to taste
1 c. sour cream

Heat butter or oil in medium saucepan. Sauté onion until tender. Add peas, lovage, stock, and salt and pepper. Cook until peas are the desired tenderness, about 3 – 7 minutes. Puree soup in batches until smooth. Place sour cream in a small bowl. Ladle 1 cup of hot soup into the sour cream, and stir to smooth. Pour this mixture into the soup and cook, barely simmering, until soup is heated through, about 2 minutes. To serve, ladle into bowls and garnish with lovage sprigs. Serves 3 – 4.

Note: You can also serve this soup cold.

Fresh Pea Soup with Lovage