Vegetable broth is probably one of the oldest ways calendula was used in cooking—it was thrown into the soup pot, hence the name pot marigold. You can vary this with any vegetables you might have on hand. For instance, if we’re making mushroom soup, we might add more mushrooms or their stems. We also change the herbs in the bouquet garni, depending on what kind of soup we are making. The calendula petals will make the stock a golden color, whether they are used fresh or dried; they lend a mild pumpkin- or winter-squash flavor. In cold-weather months, we also add a slice of immune-boosting astragalus root to our stockpot. MAKES ABOUT 2 1/2 QUARTS
To read the main article about the many uses of calendula, in both the kitchen and the apothecary, read Celebrate Calendula Flowers.
• 2 carrots
• 1 medium onion
• 1 large potato
• 1 small turnip
• 1 medium celery rib
• 4 or 5 mushrooms
• 1 ripe tomato, optional
• 3 quarts water
• Large handful of fresh calendula petals or medium handful of dried calendula petals
• Bouquet garni made of 1 bay leaf; 3 to 4 thyme sprigs or 1 teaspoon dried thyme; 6 to 8 parsley sprigs; 1 to 2 garlic cloves; and 6 to 8 peppercorns
1. Scrub vegetables well. Chop them roughly and put them in a stockpot. Add water and salt the stock lightly.
2. Add calendula petals and the bouquet garni to the pot. Bring the broth to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
3. Simmer for 30 minutes, skimming the stock occasionally. Cool the broth for an hour in the pan, then strain.
4. The broth can be enjoyed as is or used in any soup preparation.
5. Just about every other day during the summer, we go out and harvest the blossoms from the flowers that have bloomed the day before. We bring them inside and remove the florets from the center disk (the disk tastes very bitter and we don’t use it in cooking). Susan has a small baking pan that she keeps in her smaller oven and sprinkles the petals in the pan, occasionally fluffing the ones that are already there, and puts them in the oven to dry. Every week or two, she transfers the dried calendula into a dark brown glass jar where she stores them out of light and away from heat. Tina dries the whole flower heads or pulls the florets from the flowers and dries them in open-ended paper bags in the refrigerator or in her pick-up truck. She shakes the bags gently every day so that the petals dry evenly. Then they are ready for herbal preparations when needed.p truck. She shakes the bags gently every day so that the petals dry evenly. Then they are ready for herbal preparations when needed.
Susan Belsinger and Tina Marie Wilcox have a long-distance and longstanding herbal partnership; they have been collaborating on articles and herbal programs since they met more than a decade ago. Currently, they are promoting their new book, The Creative Herbal Home (Herbspirit, 2007) and working on the next title in their series, The Creative Herbal Garden. To order a book or find out about herbal presentations, visit www.SusanBelsinger.com.