LOVAGE AND CELERY SOUP from “Scarista Style” by Alison Johnson
Scarista House is an award-winning hotel and restaurant on the west coast of the Isle of Harris, Outer Hebrides, Scotland
You will be glad of this recipe if you grow lovage, as it will have taken over your garden and you won’t know what to do with it. “The root grows thick, great and deep, spreading much and enduring long…It is planted in gardens, where it grows large,” says Culpeper blandly, adding that “a decoction of the root is a remedy for ague.” If you don’t live in a malarial marsh, you will find you have a large surplus of this particular herb.
This is one of my favorite soups, and worth suffering the rampages of the plant for.
2 medium onions
1 head celery
2 large potatoes
2 ounces butter
3 large handfuls lovage leaves
425 ml water = 14.3 fluid ounces
275 ml milk = 9.3 fluid ounces
150 ml cream = 5 fluid ounces
Chop the onion, celery and potatoes coarsely and sweat them in the butter for a few minutes. Add the water and lovage and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer till the vegetables are very soft. Stir it occasionally, as the mixture will be thick and inclined to stick.
The soup now has to be sieved, as celery is hairy stuff. It is easier to do this if you liquidise it first, adding the milk as you do so.
Return the soup to the pan, add salt to taste, and the cream. Reheat without boiling. Serve with a blob of cream or some freshly chopped lovage on top.
Makes about 2 quarts—serves 6.
½ teaspoon salt is about right. I converted “milliliters” to “fluid ounces”, as noted above.
I don’t use cream. I hardly ever use cream in anything—too many calories—and it tastes just fine, as far as I’m concerned. In fact, most of the time I just use skim milk.
I don’t sieve the soup, as the recipe says—instead I run it through the blender, adding milk as suggested. I think this works out just fine. But it is probably a matter of personal taste.
The soup doesn’t freeze well, but I discovered that it works okay as a cold soup.