Lovage has such a distinct flavor that it does well when tamed by gentler ingredients--like the lettuce, cream, white rice, and leeks in this soup. Use young, glossy leaves; when lovage is too mature, it gets bitter and overpowering.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups thinly sliced cleaned leeks, white and light green parts only (about 3 medium leeks)
1 tablespoon white rice
About 2 tsp. kosher salt
3/4 cup loosely packed lovage leaves* (1/2 oz.), plus a few leaves for garnish
About 3 1/2 cups roughly chopped romaine lettuce (5 oz.)
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
How to Make It
Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat, add leeks, and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 10 minutes.
Add 4 cups water, rice, and salt. Cover and cook at an even simmer (lift lid to check and lower heat if necessary) until rice is very soft, about 20 minutes. Stir in lovage and romaine. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook 2 minutes.
Blend soup, in batches, in a blender until very smooth. Return soup to pan, stir in cream, and bring to a gentle simmer. Ladle into bowls, season with salt to taste, and garnish with remaining lovage leaves.
*You can substitute flat-leaf parsley for the lovage, but increase the quantity to 1 1/2 cups (1 oz.).