after the hail, sorrel-spinach soup

spinach and sorrel soupIN CASE YOU’RE WONDERING what plants are hailproof, the list is short—especially in the tender springtime vegetable garden, where peas and lettuce, spinach and such don’t take well to a thrashing. On Friday, May 24, 2013, we rescued what could be salvaged from the recent storm’s mess, and made sorrel-spinach soup from some of it. Once it was all pureed, you’d never know there had been giant holes in the leaves.

If you haven’t grown sorrel, Rumex acetosa, it’s easy from seed but perennializes even in my cold-winter garden (apparently even in Zone 3). It’s one of the first things to be up and growing, so I could have made sorrel soup weeks and weeks ago—or used the young, more tender leaves in salad, where they add a tart, not-quite-lemony flavor. A pretty, red-veined sorrel is especially nice in salads; it’s a close cousin, Rumex sanguineus. Neither species is tasty when the leaves get big and tough, so keep picking. (That’s it emerging in early spring in my raised-bed garden.)

Perennial sorrel emerging early springSorrel is related to knotweed (meaning it’s in the Polygonaceae, or buckwheat family, as you can tell when it sends up its flower stalk around now). The Royal Botanic Gardens website says on that it’s native to the British Isles, and was once used to treat scurvy.

spinach and sorrel soup

THIS SOUP is very green-tasting and tangy; delicious hot or cold, and thicker or thinner according to your preference.

The balance of spinach-to-sorrel can be adjusted as far as even to all-sorrel (or all-spinach for that matter), but the flavor will be much tarter as the sorrel is increased.

Note: Because I planned to freeze half the soup in portioned jars—to conserve freezer space—we began by making a thick puree; hence the very small volume of added liquid while cooking in the recipe below.  If you plan to use the soup at once, start by doubling both the water and vegetable broth, and then dilute further until you reach the desired consistency, allowing for the addition of yogurt when heating at serving time.


  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 medium ‘Vidalia’ onions or other sweet yellow onion
  • 1 medium potato, peeled
  • ½ bunch scallions
  • olive oil for sautéing the above
  • 6 cups washed, thinly chopped sorrel (any big stems removed)
  • 6 cups washed, chopped spinach (any big stems removed)
  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • water (1/2 cup to start; more at reheating time)
  • mild-tasting vegetable broth (1/4 cup to start; more at reheating time)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Greek-style yogurt (at reheating and serving time), to taste


  • Chop and sauté the garlic, onions, peeled potato, and chopped scallions in the olive oil, covered in a soup-sized pot. Cook until everything is very soft.
  • Add the butter, and when it melts, add the chopped sorrel and the liquids.
  • Cover and simmer briefly, until the greens wilt and are tender.
  • Add the spinach, and cover briefly again. Note: Adding the spinach after the thicker-textured sorrel softens, so that the spinach barely cooks, will yield a brighter green soup.
  • Using an immersion (stick) blender, puree the mixture.
  • Portion into freezer jars for later use or continue as below.
  • At reheating and serving time, stir in as much yogurt as you wish (or none at all), then thin with more broth and/or water to desired consistency. Garnish with a dollop if desired.
  • Serve hot or cold.


SORREL is the traditional ingredient in a cold soup called schav that I recall friends’ mothers making when I was a kid. Like this (from Arthur Schwartz, the Food Maven).

  1. This soup sounds wonderful. Using half spinach is a great idea. I tasted sorrel for the first time last year and instantly fell in love. So lemony! Can’t wait to add it to my kitchen garden – I’m just a little behind starting the seeds I ordered, ahem, back in February. ;)

  2. Marybeth j. says:

    Thank you for this great post and lovely recipe. Sorrel soup is one of my favorites, and I love the tang, but guests might really prefer this variation with the spinach. Sounds wonderful! Love your posts, and sorry about your hail! Sounds like you made the most of it.

  3. Crosley Crazed says:

    Thanks for the recipe which I will “veganize” by subbing Earth Balance and cashew cream for the yogurt.

    Love your dishes. What are they?
    I have heavy Homer Laughlin (made in USA) green stripe diner ware, but in the place of your outer stripe there are two narrower ones. Yours are prettier.

    Greatly enjoyed your talk in Concord, MA earlier this month. Perfect blend of info, wit and warmth.

    1. margaret says:

      Hi, Crosley. Dishes are old (like 20 years, not vintage or anything) called Williams Sonoma “Brasserie” line. Still made, but with other trim colors, not green. Thanks for the kind words!

      Hi, Marybeth. Yes, the spinach makes it more “green” than “sorrel tang” so you’re right, it’s less distinctive and therefore agreeable to a wider audience. Nice to see you.

  4. Dahlink says:

    Mu husband is a huge fan of sorrel and always brings home a big bunch when he sees it at the farmers’ market. I usually make it into a sauce for fish (but it’s also great on veggies, chicken, whathaveyou). I start with a chopped shallot sauteed in some butter, then add the chopped and stemmed sorrel. After just a couple of minutes I stir in some creme fraiche, season with salt and pepper to taste, and it becomes a very quick and easy sauce. I sometimes use the stick blender to make it smooth, but that’s optional.

  5. Beth Urie says:

    I have a 30 yo patch of ‘Blonde de Belleville’, started from a french chef friend’s patch – sing ‘au pres de ma blonde, il fait beau, fait beau, fait beau’ as i work it every year. Have you discovered that the young flower stalks are tender and tasty? They snap like asparagus, crunch nicely raw, or cook up with the leaves to join soup/sauce.
    I freeze sorrel for winter use by filling a heavy hot skillet (buttered or oiled) with washed leaves, flipping and folding the mass into itself as it wilts/melts. It quickly turns into a patty of soft gray-green sorrel concentrate – hugely shrunken! I then freeze the sorrel patty which can be used in any recipe calling for cooked sorrel.

  6. What a wonderful mix of greens! There’s both sorrel and spinach in our potager, so I will be making this soup soon. Was yogurt topping made into a floral design? However it was made, it’s really a lovely touch.

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