I often use fresh petals to garnish soup; they are almost always available on my balcony, they look so pretty and their intense orange colour encourages appetite. After writing about uses for Calendula, I thought I should make more of an effort to use the dried flowers in my food. Adding dried Calendula flowers to soups, or broths, was seen as essential to Old English cooks. They apparently felt that a broth without pot marigold was not a real broth, so that’s where I decided to start!
My Leek, Potato and Calendula soup requires about 5 dried Calendula organic flower heads. If you have dried petals, rather than flower heads, then those will also work well. Calendula flowers can taste quite bitter if infused for too long, so I added them to the soup just 5 minutes before the end of cooking and ensured that the leeks were thoroughly cooked at the start, to add a little sweetness. Calendula flowers are most likely to work their magic if some of their astringency is allowed to shine through, so don’t try to mask their taste completely, enjoy it.
2 long, thin leeks
4 medium potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped.
5 Dried Calendula officinalis flower heads (or 3 heaped tsp dried petals)
Vegetable stock (optional)
Olive oil for sweating leeks
- Clean and trim the leeks.
- Slice the leeks and add to a pan with well fitting lid.
- Add a little olive oil and allow them to sweat gently over a low to medium heat, stirring occasionally.
- When the leeks are very soft add the chopped potatoes and enough water to amply cover the vegetables.
- Add a vegetable stock cube or 2 tsp bouillon powder if desired.
- Bring the vegetables and water to the boil and then simmer for about 15 minutes, until the potatoes are thoroughly cooked.
- Add the Calendula flowers or petals and simmer for a further 5 minutes.
- Remove from heat.
- Remove any hard flower parts (the stalks and flower centres) before liquidising the soup.
- Serve warm.