Saturday, 9 April 2011


Hugh F-W bemoaned, a couple of weeks ago (Guardian Weekend magazine), the lack of sorrel in neighbourhood supermarkets or veg shops.  It is a shame as sorrel is so versatile and distinctive.  Technically, I think, it's a herb, but that shouldn't hold us back: delicate young leaves, unexpectedly sharp and juicy, are great in salads; added to a stew, sorrel adds a velvety thickness as well as enhancing the flavours; it livens up a stir fry in no time at all; and of course, turned into a sauce, sorrel is conventionally served with fish.  
Do not despair at its scarcity, however: sorrel is easy to grow.  Pop some seeds in the ground today and you will be harvesting young leaves in no time at all.  Think a bit about positioning, as your sorrel will never fully die back, and fresh bright green leaves will shoot up again very early next spring, one of the first new vegetables of the year to show.
As you have probably worked out, sorrel is lemony sharp. And I think it is worthy of being the headline act, not just a support band. 

3 large handfuls of sorrel
3 large handfuls of spinach
(1 carrot diced - optional)
(1 leek diced - optional)
600 mls water
1 tsp salt
2 tsps granulated white sugar (or palm sugar)
200 mls tinned coconut milk
1 lime, zest and juice
To serve: single cream and lime quarters.
Serves 2 as a main meal.

The spinach is important to keep the soup green; sorrel goes brown when heated.
Rinse the leaves and place them in a large pan, along with the carrot and leek if using. Add the water and salt.  Bring to the boil and then simmer for a few minutes. Once soft, blitz the soup in a blender.
Pass the soup through a sieve to remove the coarse fibres of the sorrel stalks; be prepared to push the soup through the sieve with the back of a spoon until only a loose paste is left.
Return the soup to a low heat. Add the sugar, tinned coconut milk and the juice of half a lime.  Stir and taste. Adjust the proportions of sugar, lime and coconut to suit. Bring back to simmering point before serving.
Serve with a dollop of single cream and 1 tsp of lime zest, with lime quarters for squeezing onto the soup. 
Accompany with warmed or freshly baked bread - sourdough matches the sharpness of the sorrel extremely well.

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