From: The Thorough Good Cook

Soup: 12. Sorrel Soup

Cut and wash a handful of sorrel, a lettuce, and some chervil ; pass them, with a little fresh bacon scraped, melted, and strained, through a tammy. The scraped bacon is cheaper than butter. Place your mixture in a clear meat stock ; add a pinch of sugar, and skin the soup. Boil gently for an hour and a half. Just before serving add four yolks of eggs, with two small pieces of fresh butter ; let it boil up, but keep it stirring, that the egg mixture may mingle smoothly with it ; serve it, not with toasted sippets, but with little '- crusts" of bread fried in dripping, but carefully dried in the hot closet, so that they shall be crisp and not greasy.

originally learned then adapted from The Joy of Cooking by Irma Rombauer and Marion Becker.

Easily adapted to vegetarian (but not vegan) cooking.

I used to have a very old edition of The Joy of Cooking but replaced it with a newer one. I believe the recipe changed between then and now. The new recipe calls for 1.5 cups of leaf lettuce and .5 cups of sorrel - As I recall the old recipe called for 2 cups sorrel and no lettuce. That is the way I have always made it, with just sorrel, not leaf lettuce. Either my memory is faulty and I've made it wrong for 20 years or the recipee changed. I'm noding it the way I make it; with just sorrel, no leaf lettuce.

Sorrel is one of those foods that is only available in the cool days of spring and sometimes again in the fall. This seasonality makes this soup a good spring celebration food. In the US, I have never seen sorrel in the grocery store nor at the farmer's market. In my yard it is the first vegetable I harvest, unless I've planted spinach in the fall then that may come first. Anyway, sorrelis large enough to harvest by early to mid April.

Sorrel is VERY easy to grow and is a well behaved and carefree perennial herb. I recommend planting at least 3 plants. Sorrel is best when the leaves are small and tender. The outer leaves can be harvested before they get tough and the inner leaves left to grow on. With 3 plants I can usually harvest the 2 cups of leaves needed for one batch of soup every 2 weeks during spring. Eventually as the heat of summer hits, the plant will go to seed. This can be delayed slightly to extend the harvest by cutting the seeding stalks but mother nature will soon have her way and the plant will cease making tender new leaves at the base and only make tough little leaves right on the ever more determined to grow seeding stalks. At this point I just let it go to seed. The seed heads are attractive and the goldfinches love them. Eventually the whole plant looks worn out. By late summer or early fall I cut it back to the ground and if the weather is right I will get a nice new crop of basally growing tender leaves for a fall harvest once or twice. Being perenial it all repeats again in the spring with no further effort on my part. My oldest sorrel plant is over 15 years old. I have divided it several times. These are instructions that work in US zone 7 conditions.

  • Because of the oxalic acid in sorrel, use a stainless steel or enamel pan - not aluminum
  • Clean, shred from the mid rib and chop 2 cups sorrel leaves
  • Sauté the chopped leaves until wilted in 1 to 2 Tbs. butter When they are sufficiently wilted, there will be only about 3 tablespoons of leaves
  • 5 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • Simmer for about 2 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat and add a small amount of the soup to 1/2 cup cream and 3 beaten egg yolks (this step is critical in order to prevent cooking the egg yolks into a sort of egg drop soup).
  • Combine all the ingredients by slowly adding the cream/egg/soup mix back to the main stock.
  • Heat until the soup thickens slightly but do not boil.
  • Serve garnished with chopped chervil (if available, I seldom have this and don't miss it).
  • Yields 5 - 6 cups yummy soup

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