Lightly licorice in flavor with hints of earth, sweet, and a tiny bit of zest; chervil is an uncommon herb, worth introducing to your culinary repertoire.
Chervil is similar to parsley in appearance except it has a lighter, more feathery quality to the leaves and stems. Chervil is a member of the carrot family, hence the feathery leaves and soft texture which almost resemble a carrot top. You may not recognize the name if you live in the U.S. but it is part of the combination called “fines herbes” so it maybe in your kitchen at this moment unbeknownst to you.
Chervil is native to Northern Europe but has made its way across Europe, into Asia, and around to Northern America. It is a popular herb in Europe and the U.K. but only moderately used and recognized in the U.S.
Chervil is known for its medicinal and symbolic qualities; symbolizing new life and sincerity. It is also recognized as a digestive aid and skin purifier in traditional writings.
From a culinary perspective, chervil’s subtle flavor goes really well with lighter dishes such as fish and cream based soups. Although, today’s flavor comes from a heartier dish of venison and chestnut puree, with chervil topping it off for a subtle unexpected complexity.
From a health perspective, chervil has a little research supporting its use as a digestive aid and also as a blood purifier. Nutritionally it contains a wide variety of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. It is a fantastic source of vitamins A, C, and D as well as K. It has expectorant qualities, helping to clear the chest and lungs of phlegm. It is anti-inflammatory and helps decrease oxidative stress. It also helps the gastrointestinal tract repair and replenish, along with aiding the kidneys, bladder, and urinary tract in fighting bacteria and other disease causing issues.