Monday, 20 May 2013


last spring i bought a lovage plant, popped it into my herb garden, and then ignored it apart from watering it in the really hot weather..yesterday i picked some and tentatively added it to a soup and the resulting flavour provoked me to find out about this herb and write this post..

lovage is believed to have originated from south western asia and the's an herbaceous perennial that grows hollow celery like stems to over six feet from a basal rosette of leaves..the flavour of the leaves is intriguing and i find it hard to describe but for me there are hints of celery and cardamon..

lovage (levisticum officinale) has a long history of having been used medicinally in medieval and roman times and in ancient greece, with, according to culpeper, the powdered root being used to treat gastric and intestinal problems and to promote diuresis and menses..the alternative name of 'lover's parsley' suggests that perhaps it was also purported to have aphrodisiac qualities..

the whole plant can be used for culinary purposes..the roots can be grated and eaten raw in a salad, cooked or grated and dried and used to make a tea..whole or ground seeds may be added to sweets, breads, cakes and biscuits, cordial, pickles and savoury dishes.. the finely chopped leaves can be added to a salad and the fibrous stems can also be eaten if they are first blanched or, like angelica, they can be candied ..

barley, lovage and lemon soup
tea with hazel


3/4 cup pearl barley cleaned of grit and rinsed
1 large onion cut medium
2 cloves garlic cut fine
4 medium carrots cut medium
4 small potatoes cut medium
1 celery stalk (i used several small home grown stalks) cut fine
1 cup peas
2-3 cups mixed greens (i used stinging nettle, rocket, dandelion leaves, celery and lovage leaves and a few small yellow stalked rainbow chard leaves)
1 litre stock
pinch chilli flakes
salt and pepper to taste
lemon rind and juice


~ saute the onion, celery and garlic in a little olive oil until the onion is translucent
~ add the barley, chilli flakes, salt and pepper to taste and stock and water to cover well and boil for 30 minutes or until the barley is soft
~ add carrot and potato and when nearly done add the peas and the dandelion, celery, lovage and rainbow chard leaves and cook for a couple of minutes
~ just before serving add the stinging nettle and rocket leaves, stir, and turn off heat

to serve

garnish each bowl with the zest and juice of half a small lemon or to taste

sweet potato and quark bread
tea with hazel


400 gms white bread flour
100 gms wholemeal flour
1 cup cooked sweet potato
1/3 cup quark (i used schulz organic quark from timboon)
unsalted potato water (from boiling potatoes)
2 teaspoons (tsp) honey (i used peppermint honey)
1 tsp yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons salt (i used crushed murray river salt)


 ~ mix flours, sweet potato, quark, honey and yeast with enough potato water to make a shaggy dough and autolyse for 30 minutes
~ add salt, mix briefly, rest 10 minutes and then mix again
~ remove the bowl from the mixer and cover with greased cling film and leave until doubled
~ remove the dough onto a lightly floured bench and knead lightly and rest 15 minutes
~ repeat the knead/rest cycle once more
~ shape the bread and leave to prove
~ score the dough and bake with steam at 250 deg c for 20 minutes, reduce heat to 200 deg c and cook for a further 25 minutes or until cooked


~after reading a bit more about lovage i've realised that i need to move my plant so that it has more growing space..

~ i bought a 500 gm packet of barley and 500 gms split green peas yesterday on special at the supermarket for $2..not each..both! ..i hadn't made soup with barley for years but it added such a lovely gloss (see the photo above) and richness to the soup that it's going to be having a renaissance in my kitchen..and not just in soup..i want to try using it in other ways too such as in salads or as a rice substitute..the addition of lemon was a welcome complement to the richness of the barley and the aromatic flavour of the lovage in the soup..without it the balance was just not right..

~ the bread was a bit of a surprise because at the same time as being moist it was also was very light..


  1. Very inviting!! I've just discovered Black Lovage (Alexander's) growing closeby. It has a very pungent celery/parsley aromatic taste. I've never used Lovage. Must look out for it :-)

    1. hi lovage hasn't flowered yet but hopefully it will when i move it to a more suitable position and then i'll let the seeds develop so that i can experiment using them in various recipes..

  2. The soup looks wonderful and wholesome but the bread made me twitch with delight! I wonder if I could use kefir cheese in it rather than the quark? Might have to give that a go, along with planting some lovage in our new fully enclosed veggie garden when it is finished. Today we cut ex-fish farm nets in half as Steve got the holes dug and the poles cemented in so it's all go here on Serendipity Farm :) Love the recipes Jane and I can ALWAYS count on you to make me drool at 5am ;)

    1. thanks trts..i've never made or used kefir but from what i've read about it i think it would be great in bread..

  3. Jane, that soup looks amazing! I adore barley, but no-one here will eat it! :) Your bread, as always, looks sublime. x

    1. thanks's such great stuff that i'm going to start having it for breakfast sometimes instead of oats..