This herb has lilac tubular flowers which bloom in the northern hemisphere from July to September. It grows to around 30 to 60 cm in height and has very slender, bronze-green leaves.
Summer savory is a traditional herb in Atlantic Canada, where it is used in the same way sage is elsewhere. It is the main flavoring in dressing for many fowl, mixed with ground pork and other basic ingredients to create a thick meat dressing known as cretonnade which may be eaten with turkey, goose and duck. It is also used to make stews such as fricot, and in meat pies. It is usually available year-round in local grocery stores in dried form and it is used in varying proportions, sometimes added to recipes in large generous heaping spoonfuls (such as in cretonnade), and sometimes more subtly (as in beans, for which savory has a natural affinity). Summer savory is also a characteristic ingredient of the herbes de Provence, (French) a fairly standard mixture of dried herbs. It is also widely used as a seasoning for grilled meats and barbecues, as well as in stews and sauces.
Summer savory is preferred over winter savory for use in sausages because of its sweeter, more delicate aroma. It plays an important role in the Bulgarian cuisine, providing a strong and pungent flavor to the most simple and the most extravagant of dishes. Instead of salt and pepper, a Bulgarian table will have three condiments: salt, paprika, and savory. When these are mixed it is called “colorful salt” – sharena sol.
Summer savory is also used in the Romanian cuisine, especially in sarmale, stuffed cabbage or grape leaf rolls. The plant is called Bohnenkraut in German, bonenkruid in Dutch, sarriette in French, santoreggia in Italian, borsikafű in Hungarian.
My grandmother used to make an excellent Summer savory bean soup by adding this wonderful herb to it. It was so special that everyone who tasted it, wanted to have the recipe. I don’t know where did she get the original recipe as she lived in a multi-ethnic town but whenever I detect the summer savory herb in a dish the flavor always reminds me of my grandmother! Here is the recipe:
Ingredients: you can prepare this rich soup from green bean as well I did it!
250 g dried navy beans (or use quick soak them one day before cooking) or 1⁄2 lb pinto beans, soaked in cold water overnight (or use quick soak method below), 1 teaspoon salt, 1⁄4 teaspoon pepper, 1 carrot, sliced, 1 leek or 1⁄2 onion, very finely chopped, 2 garlic cloves, pressed, (1⁄2 lb smoked bacon or 1⁄2 lb smoked ham hock (optional), 4 cups smoked ham stock or 4 cups water, 2 tablespoons cooking oil or 2 tablespoons lard (optional), 2 tablespoons onions, chopped, 1 teaspoon Hungarian paprika, 1 bunch of fresh summer savory or sage or sarriette, 3 tablespoons flour, 1 tablespoon parsley, chopped, 1⁄4 cup sour cream, 1 teaspoon vinegar
Quick soak method – Boil beans for 5 minutes in enough water to cover them completely, then cover pan and let soak for 1 hour.
Drain and rinse the beans and put them in a large pot. Add the salt, pepper, carrot, leek, garlic, ssummer savory and meat.
Add stock plus enough water to cover the beans and meat; bring to a simmer. Cook until the beans are tender (2 1/2 – 3 hours), adding water as needed to keep the beans covered; then remove meat to a separate plate.
In a heavy saucepan, melt fat or warm oil and sauté onions until they wilt. Mix in the paprika and then the flour. Gently fry, stirring constantly until flour turns gold (2-3 minutes). Add parsley. Thin roux with 1/2 cup to one cup of the broth from the soup; mix well, then slowly pour back into the soup and stir well. Let it simmer for 10 minutes. Remove soup from heat and let it cool.
Blend some soup into the sour cream to keep it from curdling when you add it then add to the soup. Mix in the vinegar and taste soup for seasonings. Cut the meat into bite sized pieces and return them to the soup. Reheat soup before serving.