Once upon a time no home and kitchen garden was complete without lovage (Levisticum officinale). It was found in every medicinal garden at monasteries and in kitchen gardens throughout Europe. But over time its use faded.  Well, it’s time to remember this old favorite and all its varied uses.

Lovage is in the Apiaceae or Parsley family, and was often used like its close relative celery in the kitchen.  The leaves were used in salads, to make soup and broth, the seeds as spice, and the roots as a vegetable. It was also used in traditional liqueurs in Europe and was candied like another relative, Angelica (Angelica archangelica).

Classical herbalists in Europe touted its ability to support healthy liver and kidney function, improve vision, ease aches and pains of all types, support a healthy respiratory tract, and much more. Like other members of the Apiaceae family, it is also great for soothing digestive discomforts. It contains similar constituents to Osha (Ligusticum porteri) and Dong Quai (Angelica sinensis).

While it was largely forgotten for hundreds of years, it is starting to have a resurgence.  It is listed in the German Commission E Monographs for its use in urinary tract infections and kidney and bladder stones (Klien et al., 1998) and modern research has focused on investigating varied health benefits, from support for microbial based infections and as an adjunct for cancer treatment (Sertel et al., 2011). Lovage essential oil is used as a fragrance in the perfume, cosmetic, and food industries.

Lovage also has quite a bit of folklore associated with it. It was an ingredient in love potions and believed to help make you more attractive and bring love your way.  In Celtic traditions, it was believed to relieve exhaustion and the leaves were placed in the shoes of travellers at inns.

Join us in rediscovering the benefits of this forgotten herb. 

Lovage and Potato Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2-3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 cups of vegetable or chicken stock
  • 3 cups of potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lovage leaves, chopped
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Crème Fraiche (optional)

Directions

  1. In a saucepan heat the butter and add the onion.
  2. Sauté until the onion is translucent.
  3. Add the potato and sauté for 3-5 minutes.
  4. Add the broth and simmer until the potatoes are soft.
  5. Add the lovage and stir.
  6. Remove from heat and puree with a hand blender.
  7. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Serve with a teaspoon of crème fraiche on top.

Enjoy!

References

Klein S, Rister R, Riggins C (1998) The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines, American Botanical Council: Austin.

Sertel S, Eichhorn T, Plinkert P, Efferth T (2011) Chemical Composition and Antiproliferative Activity of Essential Oil from the Leaves of a Medicinal Herb, Levisticum officinale, against UMSCC1 Head and Neck Squamous Carcinoma Cells, Anticancer Research, 31:1, 185-191.

Writer Erin Smith has been working with plants for 25 years and is medical herbalist and ethnobotanist. She is the creator of Plant-Passionate Living™, an interactive program designed to help people find greater health and vitality through a deeper relationship with plants. Erin is the Founder and Director of the Center for Integrative Botanical Studies.

For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, or to sell any product.