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    Post #1 - May 29th, 2019, 6:27 am
    Post #1 - May 29th, 2019, 6:27 am Post #1 - May 29th, 2019, 6:27 am
    There's a giant lovage plant in my community garden plot, so large that it was casting shade on the chard. We need every minute of sun around here, so I whacked it down and brought an armful of it back home, hollow tubular stems and all.

    There isn't a *whole* lot of recipe stuff out there for it, but I had so much I cooked it into a soup using chicken broth, onions, and garlic and whirred it up in the Blendtec. It tasted...healthful. Decidedly, unrepentantly healthful.

    For anyone here who hasn't tried it, lovage tastes like celery's flamboyant cousin.

    Last night I added the rest of the lovage leaves I had to the ramp butter I put off making a little too long. Eureka! In the butter, things got better.

    Anyone have any good experience with lovage?
  • Post #2 - May 30th, 2019, 6:10 pm
    Post #2 - May 30th, 2019, 6:10 pm Post #2 - May 30th, 2019, 6:10 pm
    We have had a clump of lovage in the herb garden for quite a few years. The celery-like flavor in the leaves starts strong and becomes stronger as the weather warms up and the plants grow larger. Fairly early in the spring flush the leaves (not stems) can be used raw in lieu of celery leaves. By now the leaves are better used in stock, soup or braising liquid. Use half or less compared to the amount of celery you would normally use. With the ridiculous price of celery lately these options are quite attractive.

    Lovage seeds have celery notes as well as some hints of dill. Cider vinegar that has had lovage seeds soaking for at least a few weeks can be nice for making cole slaw or potato salad. Lovage seeds can also go well in stock or braising liquid.
  • Post #3 - May 31st, 2019, 7:51 am
    Post #3 - May 31st, 2019, 7:51 am Post #3 - May 31st, 2019, 7:51 am
    Delicious! I will have to wait for it to go to seed to try that. Thank you!
  • Post #4 - May 31st, 2019, 8:32 am
    Post #4 - May 31st, 2019, 8:32 am Post #4 - May 31st, 2019, 8:32 am
    Love the stuff, but I mostly use it for finishing off chicken soup and in Romanian meatball soup (ciorba de periosoare). Similar to this recipe, except I don't use lemon juice as the souring agent, but rather a fermented rye-and-flour thingy called zakwas in Polish (my ancestry) and bors in Romanian (The Romanian version is usually made with wheat bran; the Polish version is often rye or a mix of rye, wheat, and/or oats. The results are pretty similar.) I have a recipe for that stuff somewhere on this site, but you can buy it commercially at Polish and Eastern European supermarkets, where it comes in a 1/2 liter bottle and usually just labeled "żurek" or "country style sour soup." It should have about an inch or so of flour sediment at the bottom and a clear-to-slightly cloudy, liquid above. It's not pure zakwas/bors, as it's flavored with garlic usually, but that flavor is usually included in all the sour soups I make.

    Anyhow, lovage just goes perfectly with it. Lovage also dries reasonably well for a fine, non-woody herb like that. The flavor of fresh lovage does take a little getting used to, I think, and the newer, smaller leaves have a more delicate flavor than the older ones. But once you get used to it, I think it's easy to get addicted to it. That said, a soup made with tons of lovage like you made sounds like it may be even overpowering for me!

    Also, lovage is quite hardy in this zone. And it likes to grow and grow and grow and produce way more lovage than you'll ever know what to do with. I finally took down an old lovage plant at my old house before the renters moved in, but that plant had been with our family for at least fifteen years, and you can do nothing to kill it. If left untrimmed, it would grow four, five feet tall every season. I never did anything to take care of that plant; it just took care of itself.

    Incidentally, in German, the plant is sometimes called Maggikraut for its similar flavor profile to the Central European versions of Maggi seasoning sauce (the formulas change by region.) From what I've been able to dig up (and I did some research on this months ago), lovage is used in at least some of those formulations, though I've only seen it listed as an ingredient on the bottle this year for the first time. I think it was hiding under the ambiguous "aroma/flavorings" listing before. First time I smelled lovage, I thought, "this smells exactly like Maggi!"

    Weirdly, for all the usual comparisons to celery, it doesn't really remind me all that much of celery. It's a very, very distinct flavor and smell, which I can detect in pretty small quantities, much in the way some/many people can taste cilantro a mile away.

    ETA: Now that I re-read your initial post, did you blend up the stalks in your soup, too? That does sound like it would be rather ... intense. I've never actually used the stalks in any of my cooking, but I have used them as playful and flavorful makeshift straws for Bloody Marys (not my idea--I read it somewhere.)