Lovage & Turkey Meatball Soup Recipe

Enjoy this homemade soup for the fall season, full of the ancient lovage herb and inspired by the dish’s Romanian roots.

Winter 2018

  • Lovage stars in this comforting, Romanian-inspired soup.
    Photo by Malorie Harris
  • Lovage has a flavor somewhere between those of parsley and celery.
    Photo by Stocksy/Harald Walker

Yield: About 8 servings

This comforting soup’s flavors are an ode to its Romanian origin. In it, lovage is the star while citrus and sour cream help enhance the herb’s presence.


For the Meatballs:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh lovage leaves
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

For the Soup:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 golden beets, peeled and diced
  • 2 stalks of celery, sliced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 ounces tomato paste
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup basmati rice
  • 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh lovage leaves
  • Sour cream for serving


  1. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the meatball ingredients (excluding the olive oil) together with your hands, and mix well. Form the meatballs with your hands, rolling balls approximately 1-1/2 inches in diameter.
  2. In a cast-iron skillet, heat the 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat, and add the meatballs one at a time. Brown the meatballs on each side, but do not cook through. Remove from the skillet, place on a tray, and set aside while you begin to prepare the soup.
  3. Heat the 2 tablespoons olive oil for the soup in a heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion, beets, and celery to the pot and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the onions are soft and translucent. Then, add the minced garlic and cook for 30 seconds more.
  4. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the tomato paste, then add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Add the rice, cover, and reduce to a simmer.
  5. Cook for about 30 minutes. Then, add the meatballs one at a time and cook for 10 minutes more. The rice should be tender and the meatballs cooked through. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then add the lemon juice and lovage.
  6. Serve hot with a dollop of sour cream.

Recipe Notes:

  • Golden beets can be replaced with carrots.
  • Ground turkey can be replaced with ground pork or chicken.
  • Any rice can be used in this recipe. Quick cooking rice can be used to reduce cooking time.

Learn more about lovage’s sweeping history, medicinal and culinary uses, and how to grow it yourself in The Low-Down on Lovage.

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