Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Good Herb - Sorrel

 I love sorrel. It has a sharp lemony flavor that might be a bit much if, say, one made a salad of just it, but a few leaves or shreds of leaves mixed with baby greens can add a nice, lively bite. It grows here as a perennial, though whether what I grow is actual French sorrel (Rumex scutatus, as opposed to Rumex acetosa), which is supposedly the more bitter variety, I'm not really sure. I've had this plant in the herb garden for several years, and it's survived being dug up and moved to other parts of the herb garden at least twice. I'm still waiting for blooms, tall stalks of whorled, reddish flowers (up to 30-36" high). My herb book says it likes full sun, but like many other plants it does best in part shade when grown here in the desert, and it does like at least moderate amounts of water.
        Apparently sorrel can be cooked just like spinach, but my favorite way to use it is in soup.There are a number of recipes out there, mostly French, but including at least one Russian one that I haven't tried yet. Below are the very simple ingredients for the easy-to-make version we like. The key thing to remember is that you don't actually "cook" the sorrel leaves. Putting them in at the end keeps both the color and flavor bright and fresh.
 SORREL SOUP - serves 4 to 6
2 cups sorrel leaves
2 T. butter
1/2 large or 1 smallish onion, chopped
1 potato (to yield 1 cup cubed)
4 cups broth (chicken or vegetable)
1/4 to 1/3 cup cream (fatfree half-and-half is fine)
1 T. sherry
salt and pepper to taste

In at least a 3-quart kettle, sauté the chopped onion in butter until translucent. Add potato and broth and simmer 20 minutes, until the potato cubes are very tender.
 Put the sorrel leaves into the blender container. With a slotted spoon, lift out all the solids from the soup pot and add to the blender, along with about half the liquid - enough to easily liquify everything else. Note that I've taken the center insert out of the lid and covered it with a cloth. Unpleasant things happen when you turn on the blender with a tight lid over hot liquids, so make sure it can get some air.
 Pour the newly liquified contents back into the pan, add the cream, sherry, and salt and pepper to taste, and serve. It tastes good cold, too, but this is winter, so I'm serving it hot.
        According to one book I read, juice from sorrel leaves can be used to bleach rust, mold, grass and ink stains from linen and wicker, and sorrel tea may soothe mouth ulcers and skin wounds. I haven't tried any of those uses yet. The same book also warns that sorrel shouldn't be eaten by those suffering from rheumatism or gout, a warning that's also been applied to spinach, rhubarb, and other foods rich in oxalic acid. Other sources just advise moderation, noting that sorrel is quite rich in Vitamin C, and that the addition of dairy (like the cream in this soup) counters any problems due to the oxalic acid.

No comments:

Post a Comment