Heatons Herb of the Month: Tarragon

By Dorothy Connor on behalf of SLH

In France, tarragon is commonly called “King of Herbs”. It goes well with chicken, fish and egg dishes. And did you know that tarragon has been used for pain relief since ancient times? It contains eugenol, a natural anaesthetic. You can chew the leaves to ease mouth/tooth pain!

If you would like some tips for growing tarragon at home, head down to one of the Heaton Mersey Garden Maintenance sessions and speak to the friendly team of gardeners.

If you’ve already got some tarragon in your garden, why not give this recipe a try?

Smoked Haddock Chowder with Tarragon

Ingredients (for 4 portions):
25g (1oz) butter
1Tbsp vegetable oil (preferably virgin olive oil)
100g (3 ½ oz) or medium-sized onion, roughly chopped
20g (3/4 oz) plain flour
400ml (14fl oz) milk
400ml (14fl oz) chicken or vegetable stock
4-5g fresh tarragon (if using dried tarragon from a jar, 1 ½ g
4-5g fresh parsley (if using dried parsley from a jar, 1 ½ g)
2 medium potatoes (about 450g (16oz)), peeled and chopped into 2cm (1inch) cubes
125g (4 1/2oz) leek, trimmed and sliced
3 frozen smoked haddock fillets (about 270-300g in all)
Optional: Add 100g (3 ½ oz) sweetcorn kernels
Also optional: Garnish each bowl with a free-range hardboiled egg and a sprig of parsley

Instructions:

  1. Heat the butter and oil in a saucepan. Add the onion and fry until soft, stirring regularly. Remove from hob and stir in the flour.
  2. Mix the milk and water. Put the saucepan back on the hob & gradually add the liquid to the onions, stirring often.
  3. Add the tarragon, parsley & leek slices to the pan and continue to simmer for about 5 minutes. Stir regularly.
  4. Add the potatoes to the saucepan. Bring the saucepan to a boil and then reduce the heat to simmer for about 10-12 minutes or until the potatoes are nearly edibly soft (if you overcook them, there’s no going back!).
  5. Remove the pan from heat (the potatoes will continue to cook for a short time).
  6. Cook the haddock fillets separately: Spread the fillets on a plate or other dish and microwave on medium power for 1 – 1 ½ minutes. Remove from microwave, remove the skin and cut into slightly larger than bitesize chunks.*
  7. Now microwave the chunks. How long?  If serving the soup soon after making, microwave on medium for 1-1 ½ minutes. If the soup is to be frozen, microwave on medium for about 45 seconds (but it’s a good idea to check halfway and avoid overcooking!).
  8. Add the liquid left in the microwaveable dish to the saucepan with the other ingredients and mix in gently.
  9. If serving straightaway, spoon the chowder into bowls and position the haddock chunks on top (if the chunks are not quite flaky enough to be edible, put each bowl back in microwave for a short time).
  10. Add garnishes to the bowl if you like and serve.
  11. You can freeze this soup for later use.

*I’ve seen recipes that place a whole fillet on top in the bowl,   but to me, doing this is making it a casserole rather than a soup!