IN 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.)
Sorrel 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).