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Cooking with Comfrey

comfrey plant in flower
Use only young tender comfrey leaves in cooking. They are covered in fine hairs which become unpalatable as the leaves get older.

Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) may not be one of the most aromatic herbs, but its exceptional medicinal properties, and high protein content, makes it a very popular herb with herbalists. (You can also read this comfrey article in Afrikaans.)

In the edible plant world it ranks just behind soya beans for protein content. And it has no equal as a remedy for skin problems, injuries, muscle and skeletal pain, and inflammation.

It’s also highly regarded by organic food gardeners as a compost crop, green manure and mulch. And by livestock farmers as a high protein fodder.

Chef’s Tips for Cooking with Comfrey

Comfrey is a member of the borage family and it has the same faint cucumber flavour as borage. It’s slightly bitter flavour becomes more pronounced when overcooked.

Some say that if prepared correctly, the flavour becomes a bit like endive and asparagus. I wholehearted agree with taking the trouble to prepare it correctly, but I can’t say that my comfrey ever tasted like asparagus. Maybe my palette needs more practice.

Use only the tender young leaves in your cooking. Comfrey leaves are covered in fine hairs and these become quite hard and unpalatable in older leaves. Wash the leaves, dry, and prepare as directed by the recipe.

Like spinach, it’s easy to overcook comfrey. But it’s not great too raw either. Rather err on the side of undercooking it.

Comfrey can be prepared as a starter (they make quite good fritters), soup, or as a side dish. (My mom makes a delicious comfrey marog -a traditional African side dish made with leafy greens, onions and tomatoes.) You can also add it to other veggies and to stews. It also makes a nutritious addition to veggie juices.

Parsley, lemon balm, mint, and caraway seed all go well with comfrey.

If you are worried about the safety of comfrey let me assure you that it’s not such a smashing vegetable that you’ll overindulge on it on a daily basis. But it is nevertheless a good idea to read my article on comfrey safety.

If you liked this article please share it with your friends. You are also welcome to leave a comment and rate the recipe below.


Comfrey Soup Recipe
This recipe was adapted from a recipe by Gilian Painter published in her A Herb Cookbook. It’s the best comfrey soup recipe I’ve tried. Not that I’ve tried that many I must confess.
Serves: 4
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 large potato, peeled and diced
  • 4 cups finely chopped, tender young comfrey leaves
  • 2 cups stock (vegetable, chicken or beef)
  • ½ cup milk
  • Marmite or soy sauce to taste
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Cook the sliced onion gently in butter in a large saucepan until soft.
  2. Add potato and sauté.
  3. Add comfrey and sauté all together for several minutes.
  4. Add stock, bring to boil and then simmer gently until vegetables are tender.
  5. Mash potatoes with a potato masher or if you prefer a smooth consistency blend in a blender.
  6. Heat the milk and add to the soup.
  7. Season to taste with marmite (or soy sauce), and salt and pepper.
  8. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve with toast.

4 thoughts on “Cooking with Comfrey

  1. […] Smeerwortel (Comfrey – Symphytum officinale) is nou wel nie een van die mees aromatiese kruie nie, maar die uitsonderlike mediese eienskappe en hoë proteïeninhoud maak dit ‘n baie gewilde krui by kruiedokters. (Read this comfrey article in English.) […]

  2. Thanks. I use comfrey in my vege garden but havent used it to eat. . . yet.

  3. Soup sounds delicious, will have to try it soon as winter is drawing nearer. I heard that it’s illegal to sell comfrey plants in SA. I don’t recall the source. Would that be the case do you know? And if that is the case then would it be legal to give these away? Thanks for posting, comfrey is in my top ten or top five of useful plants.

    1. Thanks Didi, I’ll report back on the soup shortly. Comfrey is as safe as houses, I never had a doubt in my mind concerning this. The authorities like the FDA are corrupt and criminal, there is ample proof of this in the public domain. I also did some research on the issue of comfrey being dangerous and found NOT A SINGLE CASE of comfrey causing more than a mild rash on someone with an allergy could I find. Genuine case that is.

      Pigs or piglets were fed only comfrey by a pig farmer curious about the Australian ban on comfrey due to it causing liver disease. When the pigs were slaughtered the farmer asked the butcher about the condition of the livers. The butcher replied that he’d never seen such healthy livers in his life. Further studies and observations revealed no liver damage that could be blamed on comfrey use. Two of the three cases ‘comfrey induced liver disease’ cited by corrupt officials were actually hobos, now I’ve got nothing against hobos but it’s common knowledge that they are usually prone to excessive intake of alcohol and sometimes methylated spirits, which we know is excellent for your liver! Especially when you skip eating as well. The other case was just as stupid. It’s an old lady, maybe the same one you mention in this post
      they chased the old lady when she tried to run away from them and she had a brown paper bag full of herbs including comfrey. BS!.

      Instead of reversing the ban, the corrupted authorities then after being caught in a lie added another. Comfrey might cause cancer. Hmmm but then blinking twice might be a cause of cancer too. The cases they cite are cases involving a different plant but of the same family. Using this logic there is very little we can safely eat as most plants have poisonous family.

      Take care. Will rate the recipe once I’ve tried it.

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