Ground-elder (Aegopodium podagraria) is olne of the most agressive weeds that one can have in a garden in this part of the world. A quasi-undestructable plant that made the hairs of quite a lot gardeners turn grey long before their time. But maybe the hate that some people direct towards the plant is quite exaggerated, in fact it’s not ugly at all, and a very interesting native ground-cover, which bears beautiful white flowers in the spring. The fact that not everyone hates the plant can be proven when we see that there are even garden varieties of this plant.
But ground-elder is quite useful too on other domains than aesthetics, and it actually has a long and interesting history. The Romans used it as a vegetable, and they imported it everywhere, to have a very easy source of food, and the plant is indeed a tasty and nutritious vegetable. Very young leaves can be eaten raw, but the older leaves are too tough, and taste too strong. They are better when cooked. After flowering time the leaves are too strong and they become inedible. The taste is somewhere in between parsnip, chervil and celery, a mix of other members of the umbilifer family.
It is also used in herbal medecine against rheumatism and painful joints, and this use dates back to the middle ages, when monks grew the plant specifically for that person.
If you still want to fight the plant, in spite of all it’s usefulness, then the best way is to exhaust it. Pulling and cutting away every part of it until all underground storage is lost and it doesn’t come back. You can use those leaves in the kitchen, and it’s possible that you start to miss it when the time is there that you’ve finally gotten rid of it…
This simple soup is one of my summer soups, and very similar to my basic recipe for nettle soup. It appears to be very popular, and it also is very easy to make, and quite cheap!
!!If you collect plants in the wild (even in your own garden), you should always be sure that you have the right species, so use a good flora or fieldguide. Never use anything unless you’re really sure!! The umbilifer family happens to include some quite poisonous plants that no-one wants to put on his plate, but (at least in this part of Europe) it has no real dangerous lookalike, with the same leaves and the triangular stem profile if you cut of the leaves.
2 hands of ground-elder leaves
broth-cube and water
Cut the onion in little pieces, and heat it with a little bit of oil. cut the potato in small pieces, wash and and slice the ground-elder, and add it to the onions. Let it boil with a tiny bit of water, until everything is soft. Then add more water and a broth cube, and go through it with an immersion blender until there are no pieces left. Let it boil again so the tastes can mingle some more.