Proof of the popularity of parsley

The ubiquitous green sprig decorating many a dish is hardly a hint of the potency of that paragon of plants, parsley. Native to the eastern Mediterranean, parsley's popularity spread about the world in early Greece and Roman conquerors carried it along as their favorite flavoring. It was passed during long orations to be nibbled by the audience.

Parsley is a biennial, related to caraway, carrots and parsnips. It's choosy about soil, and perhaps who plants it, but you may possess the green thumb to grow it in the garden or in pots on a sunny sill.

Either way, at harvest time it can be cut, washed, and frozen in plastic bags for future use. It is a fine food, fitting any meal of the day.

For breakfast, toast and butter a slice of whole wheat bread, mound it with chopped parsley. Poach an egg in simmering water for four minutes, lift out with a slotted spoon, place in the parsley nest.

For lunch, make Parsley Soup. Melt 2 tablespoons butter or margarine, slowly simmer 1 tablesppon chopped onion, 1 minced garlic clove, 1 thinly sliced potato with scrubbed skin, 1/2 cup chopped parsley.

Simmer for 3 minutes. Add 2 pints chicken stock or tinned broth, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, salt and pepper. Continue to simmer until potato is cooked through: about 10 minutes, then cool.

Blend in a processor with 1 pint plain yogurt. Heat, or serve cold with a dollop of yogurt or sour cream topped with chopped parsley and chives. Serves 4.

Of course, it's wise never to overdo a good thing . . . except, perhaps, parsley.

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