LETTUCE AND LOVAGE SOUP
Lovage is an old-fashioned herb that adds a bit of lemony zest to your cooking. We sometimes substitute it for celery – but take care if you try this, because its more zippy and potentially overpowering.
A perennial, the plant more or less takes care of itself. And it’s lovely in the garden, growing to a nice medium-high height with an architectural quality to the system of stalks and leaves.
The portions suggested here will serve a hungry pair, but you can increase the amounts to taste or to suit a larger number.
One white onion (or two, if small)
A couple of potatoes (three or four, if you prefer a smaller variety)
Cube of Chicken or vegetable stock (we recommend the organic brand Kallo)
One head of lettuce (we like to use traditional British round lettuce, which has a bit of flavour. Try any you like, of course!)
A bunch of lovage, to taste (about a third to a half the amount of lettuce)
Put 1 to 2 Tbspns of butter in a deep pan, and place it on the stove over a low to medium heat. Add the chopped onion, and stir occasionally until the onion starts to go translucent.
Meanwhile, cut up your potatoes into moderately small chunks – we usually don’t bother to peel them. When the onion is pale and interesting, add a little more butter and the potato; stir, from time to time.
After about 10 minutes, add a stock cube and water to just cover the vegetables. Stir, and simmer until the potatoes begin to soften.
While it simmers, clean and prepare the lettuce and lovage. Tear or cut the lettuce leaves from the base of the head; cut the larger leaves in half. Remove the lovage leaves from the stalks.
When the potato is soft, plop in the greens. Stir them into the soup; you’ll find the volume of leaves reduces quickly as you stir. Leave to simmer perhaps another five minutes, and remove from the heat.
Zip through a blender or use a hand blender to smooth the soup.
Serve, hot or cold, with a dash of cream.