Here we are in mid-February and the cow parsley (Anthriscus sylvestris) is growing profusely in the hedgerows of Kent. Also known as ‘wild chervil’ it makes a great soup when young.
A word of warning however, at this time of year cow parsley could be mistaken for hemlock (Conium maculatum), which is highly poisonous. All parts of hemlock are toxic. There are a few pointers to differentiate the two:
- The leaves are somewhat different, with the leaves of hemlock being finer and more feather like.
- Once the plant is bigger, the stem on hemlock is smooth and has red blotches.
- If you break the stem of hemlock, it is hollow and gives off an unpleasant smell.
I’ve written this post that differentiates between cow parsley and hemlock. And this is also a good guide for identifying hemlock as well as providing some useful toxicology data about hemlock. Just be sure that you are certain what you are picking, and if you have any doubt, don’t eat it.
Once you’re certain you have the right plant, you need to collect a couple of good handfuls, remove the stalks and finely chop both the leaves and stalks but keep them seperate.
- 2 good handfuls of finely chopped cow parsley leaves and stems
- 70g of butter
- 300g of potatoes peeled and cubed
- A large onion finely chopped
- 800mls of vegetable stock
- 120 mls of double cream
- Salt and pepper
How to make cream of cow parsley
- Melt the butter with a splash of olive oil
- Add the onion, potato and cow parsley stalks and fry until tender
- Add the vegetable stock and simmer for 10 minutes
- Add the chopped leaves and simmer for another minute
- Pour into a clean bowl, add the cream and blend
- Add seasoning to taste