Here are two unsophisticated, fuss-free yet really tasty starters recipes that you might appreciate if like me, you aren’t really familiar with the uses of chervil. This one is a delicate herb with a subtle, herbal aroma that resembles both that of parsley and that of cut-grass ; its flavour is pleasantly brought out when warmed, but chervil should be added at the end of cooking, or at least cooked carefully, without boiling too long or burning. It should also be kept no more than 2-3 days in the fridge to enjoy its interesting fragrance and flavour.
I didn’t plan to make these recipes, but after having made my last one, I had almost the whole bunch of chervil (which by the way was quite big) leftover. I had not bought chervil so often previously, first because I did not know what to do with it, second because I had to throw it away after 2 days or 3 after having used only a few stalks for a specific recipe, which is definitely shameful. Plus, it can hardly be frozen, unlike some other aromatics.
This time, I decided to seek out some ideas to use chervil on the Web where I happened several times to stumble upon interesting recipes in a similar situation, and I regretted not to have thought of it before, since they were surprisingly easy to find. As I wasn’t able then to get specific ingredients like seafood (that obviously goes well with chervil – to be verified some time !), I choose basics that I however like a lot : omelette and cream soup. The former uses only a few stalks of chervil, but the soup requires a whole bunch of it, so that I could get rid of my stock while varying the meals.
Being quite satisfied of my finds, I pass them on ! I think I will buy more chervil from now, but perhaps on purpose to do one of these recipes, before moving on to more sophisticated ones…
Omelette is kind of a special food for me, as this is the first thing my dad taught me to cook, even before pasta ! I would like to take this opportunity to give you my tricks to make a perfectly soft omelette, in the French style yet not undercooked and runny in the middle (which I know only we French people may love, and not even all of us !). Chervil is a wonderful way to add flavor to it without overwhelming the eggs’ taste. A dash of white wine and a heart of melted parmesan cheese, and this simple starter is changed into a praiseworthy meal !
Ingredients (yields 2 single omelets or 1 medium, serving 2 as a starter) :
- 2 eggs
- 10 stalks chervil
- 1 tsp dry white wine (such as a Riesling)
- 1/2 tbsp oil
- 1 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
- 1 pinch of salt
- pepper to taste (black or white)
Heat the oil in a pan over medium-high flame. Meanwhile, rinse and pat dry chervil. Discard the stems and chop finely the leaves.
Beat the eggs with the wine, salt and pepper until well combined, but not until foamy (if thoroughly mixed, the omelette will turn too dry).
Add the chervil and mix again to combine.
When the oil is hot enough (give it a test with a small amount of the batter : it should set immediately), pour in the beaten eggs.
With a twisting motion, distribute them evenly on the pan. Here comes the most important part of the process: with your spatula, pull the cooked sides of the egg batter towards the center of the pan, and distribute again the uncooked part of the egg on the whole surface of the pan. Repeat until it cannot be done, when no runny egg remains (for 2 eggs, it might be done 3 to 4 times), whilst making sure the omelet retains a neat round shape.
As the top is not yet set but the other side is nicely browned (it is quite quick, so be careful : check by lifting up the omelette with the spatula), sprinkle the cheese on one half of the omelette.
Fold it in half, making sure to seal the edges, and dish out. For a better presentation, you might want to divide the omelette into smaller parts, like on the photo above. If wanting to make single omelettes, divide the ingredients into two batters or cook the beaten eggs in two stages, one half after the other.
Chervil cream soup
This one is but a rustic pottage, prepared in the traditional manner by stewing vegetables in stock, mixing and adding a little cream at the end. But chervil is to my mind one of the best herbs to be cooked into soups, its flavour being bold yet not unpleasantly herbal. And it’s in the end still winter here, so this kind of soup is always appreciated !
Ingredients (yield 4 bowls) :
- 100g chervil
- 300g potatoes
- 150g carrots
- 1 big yellow onion
- 1 liter of stock (I used homemade chicken stock)
- 25g butter
- 20cl crème fraîche or whipping cream (optional as for me : the soup tastes good without too, which is good to know if you’re watching your weight !)
- salt, pepper
Peel the carrots, potatoes and onion. Slice the carrots, dice the potatoes and chop roughly the onion.
Rinse and pat dry the chervil. Chop it roughly, with the stems.
In a big pot, melt the butter on medium heat and fry gently the onion until transparent (about 5 minutes).
Add the chopped chervil, stir to combine, then add the other vegetables. Pour in the stock and lower the heat.
Without boiling, simmer on medium-low heat, uncovered, until the carrots and potatoes turn soft, which takes 30 to 40 minutes according to the kind of pot you’re using.
At the end of cooking, add salt and pepper to taste, then mix the soup. Blend in the cream and add more salt and pepper if needed.
Serve hot ! You might top the soup with chopped chervil to increase its taste, but honestly, it isn’t necessary especially if no cream had been added ; besides, the cream might be served on the side, allowing the diners to help themselves.