Lovage all around us

It’s that time of year when the perennial herbs make their move and grab a bit of sunshine. One in particular likes to grow head and shoulders above the rest. In just a few weeks Lovage will be reaching for the sky.

Many people aren’t sure what to do with its generous tall stems of foliage but this aromatic and slightly bitter herb makes one of the best soups ever. A surprise hit at last years Buck and Birch dinners.

We served ours in a dainty little cup with a foam, some pretty flowers and a straw made from the tender hollow stems. Here though is the recipe for you to try at home. Garnish it up as you like.

Lovage soup in a mug

BUCK & BIRCH LOVAGE SOUP

50g shallots

50g butter

50g plain flour

1.2 litres good stock ( we used light pheasant stock but chicken or veg is fine)

2 large handfuls of lovage leaves chopped ( reserve some for garnish )

100ml creme fraiche

Salt and white pepper to taste

METHOD

Over a gentle heat ,sweat the shallots in the butter till they are translucent but not coloured

Stir in the flour and cook gently for a minute or so until you smell shortbread

Increase the heat and whisk in the stock in three or four stages, ensuring that it is smooth before adding the next one.

Reduce the heat again and stir the soup for a minute more before transferring to a blender and blending in the chopped leaves. Let it run a while to really smash up the herbs

Strain through a fine sieve and serve in bowls with a spoon of creme fraiché and a sprinkle of fresh leaves.

For a chilled summer soup , allow the velouté to cool fully before adding in the herbs.

Fantastic with a slice or two of sourdough bread and a glass of crisp white wine - Enjoy!