Sorrel has a remarkably bright and even tart flavor. Many people liken its taste to lemons, which makes sense since there is a real note of sourness in there. Once a common ingredient in soups, stews, salads and sauces, sorrel vanished from use for hundreds of years. Now this delightful, leafy green is finding its way back into gardens and kitchens, where its tantalizing flavor and good nutrition can be enjoyed each spring. This really is a celebration to spring soup as it uses all spring vegetables at their prime.
Sorrel is part of the knotweed family that includes rhubarb and buckwheat as well as wild docks, rau rum, and knotweed. There are several varieties people consume and that may be for sale at farmers markets.
- Common sorrel is the one most readily available at markets and nurseries for planting. It is a deep-rooted perennial that will last for years and years if it finds a spot it likes. It has a sharp flavor and somewhat large, arrow-shaped leaves.
- French sorrel is also cultivated, so you’ll see it at markets sometimes. It has a milder flavor than does common sorrel, with smaller and more rounded leaves.
While sorrel gives the soup a fresh, lemony tang, if you can’t find sorrel, use lemon basil or baby spinach with a teaspoon of lemon juice.
45 g / 3 tablespoons butter
8 spring onions, trimmed and thinly sliced
4 little gem heart lettuces, shredded
450 g / 1 lb fresh or frozen small peas
5 cups chicken stock
30 g / 1 oz sorrel leaves, cut very thinly
1/4 cup cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Melt the butter in a large saucepan
Add the spring onions and cook over medium low heat for 3 minutes until soft but no colour
Add the lettuce and cook for 2 minutes
Add the peas and cook another 2 minutes
Add the stock, salt (1/4 teaspoon) and pepper
Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 5 minutes
Using a stick blender or the food processor, blend the soup until smooth
Return the soup to the pan and heat gently
Add the sorrel leaves
Stir in the cream and cook for 1 minute
Pour into soup bowls and top with a swirl of cream