By Catherine Winter
Here in zone 4, there are only a few enthusiastic early greens unfurling. There’s still some snow on the ground here and there, but we have dandelions popping up on the lawn, and some hardy herbs in the potager garden. I was delighted to see that my sorrel was already growing beneath the snow, as there’s now *just* enough to harvest for a pot of soup.
These perennial greens grow in a large patch right beside my front patio. After 7 months of snow, it’s always a delight to bite into the first, lemony sorrel leaves when they show up.
Springtime came earlier than usual this year (which was a delightful surprise), so I have chives and winter savory coming up too. Since the evenings out here are still quite chilly, I decide to gather a bunch of sorrel and put some soup together for dinner.
I grew up with sauerampfer soup, but my family’s recipe was very heavy on cream and egg yolks, which I find way too rich. As a result, I’ve adapted my own recipe to incorporate whatever’s in season (and in the fridge). This omits the cream and eggs: I just use plain Greek yogurt or Skyr instead.
Olive oil or butter or Earth Balance (for frying)
1 small to medium onion, peeled and diced
1/2 teaspoon thyme, finely chopped
1 small bunch green onions or chives, finely chopped
2 medium potatoes, grated or finely chopped
A couple of big handfuls of sorrel leaves, shredded
4 cups of your favourite stock (I use chicken stock, but leek or onion stock works really well in this
1/3 cup plain, high-fat yogurt or sour cream (dairy or vegan)
Lemon juice (fresh, not concentrated!)
Salt and black pepper
Heat your butter or oil in a large stock pot on medium-high heat, and add the onions and thyme, stirring often until the onions soften and start to turn golden.
Add the stock, green onions, and potatoes, and stir well. Bring this mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Let that bubble away merrily until the potatoes have softened.
Toss in those sorrel leaves, which will turn a sort of murky olive green as soon as it hits the heat: don’t be alarmed, it’ll still taste fabulous.
Use an immersion blender to puree approximately half of the soup, or scoop out half of it and put it through a standard blender or food processor, adding it back to the pot when you’re done. If you find the soup too thick, feel free to add some more stock to thin it out. Stir in the yoghurt or sour cream, and a tablespoon or so of lemon juice. Add salt to taste, and feel free to add more lemon if you like as well.
The sour cream or yogurt are optional and are just used to make the soup creamy. You can also use pureed cannellini beans if you’d like to add protein and a silky texture. Some people prefer not to mix the sour cream into the dish, but instead add a dollop of it into the bowl just prior to serving, along with chopped raw sorrel, parsley, or dill.
I made this soup with what I had on hand, but it can be adapted so many ways. Fresh sweet green peas make a great addition as soon as they’re available, and swapping out half of the sorrel for spinach adds more iron and greenness to the pot.
I’ve also added leftover roasted zucchini, used cauliflower instead of potato, and even shredded up pickles to add more tartness. The one common denominator is always the gorgeous lemony bite from the sorrel.
Do you grow this plant in your garden? How do you like to prepare it? Let us know!
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