Midsummer harvest: borage soup

Borage soup

“Yes, it really is that green,” my partner said to tell you. Danny is giddy about the borage soup I made. He still has not quite recovered from the hopelessly bitter nettle lasagna we tried in the spring. So must the families of experimental foodies suffer. Despite its shocking verdure this soup is enjoyable, with a flavour not unlike squash soup.

BorageBorage has performed admirably in the garden this summer despite the drought. In fact it was growing vigorously two nearby tomato plants, so I had to use it somehow. Borage soup calls for 1 kg (roughly 2 lbs.) of leaves.

As a teenage herb gardener I developed a fondness for the borage plant. It is rarely used in North American cooking, but I have never found an English herb book that failed to mention borage. Unfortunately I found few recipes. We did not have this thing called internet back then, and I was too ignorant about culinary practices to experiment. So beyond nibbling a leaf or flower, I never ate borage.

I was attracted to the uncommonly blue flowers. So are bees. Borage does an excellent job of inviting pollinators to the garden. It is a coarse, bulky plant but the charming blooms demand a spot near the front of the garden for close inspection. They open a deep pink colour and quickly mature to blue. Borage will grow and sow itself rambunctiously. Gardeners must maintain a firm stance.

It has a mild cucumber flavour. Supposedly you can dry the leaves, but I cannot imagine it being worth the trouble. Likewise, I doubt the wisdom of using it raw in salads because the foliage is prickly. However, the edible blue flowers make an excellent garnish or decoration for cakes and sundaes. I have long sought a decent recipe to employ the cooked greens, and at last I found it. It requires quite a mass of them, but several borage plants will easily supply it. So will the seedlings, once the second generation starts volunteering.

Take care to remove all the stems. I thought cooking would soften them enough for puréeing, but they were somewhat woody and left bits of tough fibre in the soup. It was still delicious so I will try for better next time. This recipe is slightly adapted from Hunter Angler Gardener Cook.

Borage Soup
Recipe Type: Soup
Author: Van Waffle


Cook time: 45 mins
Total time: 45 mins
Serves: 4
Do not chop the borage, onions or parsley before boiling. You can substitute half the stock with white wine.
  • 1 kg borage leaves and flowers
  • 4 green onions
  • 1 handful fresh parsley
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 3 medium potatoes
  • sea salt
  1. Boil a large pot of water with 1/4 cup of salt
  2. Peel potatoes and cut into large chunks. Boil them for 15 minutes then fish them out with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  3. Prepare an ice water bath.
  4. Boil onions 3 minutes then scoop them out and place in ice water.
  5. Boil parsley 2 minutes then scoop into ice water.
  6. Boil borage 1 minute then scoop into ice water.
  7. Drain cooled greens.
  8. Bring stock to a simmer.
  9. Mash potatoes into the stock and simmer 15 minutes.
  10. Chop greens, add them to the stock and return to a simmer.
  11. Season with salt to taste.
  12. Purée soup in a food processor.
  13. Return to the pot, heat through, garnish with borage flowers and serve immediately.

Here are a couple more ideas:

  1. Freeze borage flowers into ice cubes to add visual appeal to summer drinks.
  2. Cooked borage greens make an excellent addition to creamy or primavera sauces for pasta.
  3. Borage and ricotta filling for gluten-free ravioli sounds enticing.

This is the second in a Saturday series about soups to take advantage of midsummer vegetable harvests. Also check out Midsummer soups: gluten-free New England clam chowder and look for the last in this series next weekend.

Borage greens

11 thoughts on “Midsummer harvest: borage soup

  1. I like borage, too. Aren’t the flowers an interesting flavor? I volunteer every spring at the largest plant sale in the US, right here in the city, and borage is among the herbs available. It’s sadly overlooked next to aromatic basil and all the rest. It rarely sells, and looks weedy and appears unkempt after awhile so people ignore it, but as we know, bees are smarter than people. :o) Fortunately it sprouts readily and is recognizable in the spring. I’ve used it mixed with orange cosmos for an interesting effect.

    1. The flowers taste great: cucumber plus nectar! It’s too bad the borage plant is not more appealing to contemporary tastes. If I ever have a dedicated herb garden, I’ll make a borage patch just to make the bees happy.

  2. Thanks for this Van! There´s borage growing in the cottage garden but I{ve never grown or eaten it before and had no idea what to do with it.

    Heh, wonder what state the garden´s going to be in when I get home. I think there have been a few hard frosts while I´ve been gone. Will see what I find on Friday!

    1. Hi Toni, I’ve been thinking about you. You must either be wishing the trip would never end, or looking forward to getting home. I look forward to seeing images. Safe travels!

  3. Okay so I don’t know if this site is still active, but do you know of any good online retailers for fresh borage leaves? I found a single plant in a market a year ago and that’s it. I never even heard of in until a while ago

    1. Borage is very easy to grow from seeds, and that is how I’ve always grown it. I’ve seen them at garden centres and you can also buy them online from places like Stokes Seeds and Richters Herbs. Once established it will self-seed profusely if you have conditions it likes.

  4. Is this really edible? Because I’m interested in eating as much veggies and greens particularly as possible and this plant is massive – I’m chopping and dropping it as mulch in the garden. I was imagining either pureeing some (a lot?) with some lettuce and fruit and nuts / seeds as a smoothie or steaming (possibly with garlic) but didn’t want to hurt myself. I’m excited though. I guess the cautious approach would be to try these but only eat a little bit and wait a day or two and then ramp up the amount slowly. Kinda cool, because it’s so prolific and it grows itself! Gotta learn more and want to get / stay lean as feck and live to be 105 (with my mental and physical faculties more or less intact) or as long as I can and skip the heart disease, cancer, obesity, asthma (an frequent but very serious problem for me).

    1. Yes, it is edible. Borage is listed in most culinary herb books. However, its flavour is very mild so it is actually used more as a vegetable than a seasoning herb. Borage soup is traditional in Germany and some other European countries. The young leaves can be used fresh in salads if finely chopped, but I prefer to cook it, which eliminates the prickly hair factor.

  5. I’m glad I found your site!

    Well, I’m leaving this message before I try the soup, but looking at the ingredients, I can’t wait.

    My neighbor had given me some bok choy seedlings (or so she thought) as they kept growing
    they looked nothing like bok choy. They are beautiful Borage plants and rather proliferous.
    My neighbor had accidentally mislabeled the seedlings. 🙂
    What a great surprise. I’ll look forward to the flowers and a wonderful Borage soup! (or possibly as a ravioli filling as suggested)

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