There has been an ‘all things lovage’ series going on las week on my Instagram under #lovageweek. It started randomly, after I returned from a trip to Bucharest, where my host and best foodie friend Monica gave me a full tour of the city’s biggest farmers market – Piata Obor. I left the market with a huge smile and an even bigger bunch of lovage to take to London.
In Romania we use fresh lovage to add flavour to soups, broths and meat-based stews. Today’s recipe, the gem lettuce broth is a personal favourite, especially during the summer. It is easy to make and super refreshing. And it is equally delicious if you serve it hot or cold. The main ingredient of the broth is the baby gem lettuce. In Romania we use a different type of lettuce, but baby gem was the closest in taste and texture that I could find in London. It is a stock an sour cream based broth, although – again – we have a specific type of sour cream in Romania, which I rarely find here, so I used a full fat Greek yogurt which worked perfectly. In this recipe in particular, lovage is optional, but I believe it brings a particularly fresh flavour. As a variation, in some households, the broth is made with lardons, which are added at the beginning and are fried together with the onion. Also, some recipes call for a simple omelette, which is rolled and then cut in pieces of about 1/2 cm. As with most of the old recipes, there are probably many other variations around Romania, but these are the most commonly found.
A Romanian traditional summer dish: gem lettuce broth with lovage and poached egg