Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Soupe à l'oseille (Oscar the Grouch soup)

In an ideal world, I would still be harvesting more tomatoes than I knew what to do with from a magnificent potager at this time of year.  In reality, I have to make do with window boxes.  I already lost one cherry tomato plant, which grew so tall that one day it just fell off the railing down into the street with a thud.  Terence went down into the street to clean it up while I watched him from the window and cried.

One plant that really thrives in this terra cotta box is sorrel.

To be honest, I have ambivalent feelings about this plant.  It's just not the kind of thing you would want to eat every day, but it's more prolific than any of the other herbs I try to grow (as evidenced by the pitiful coriander seedling, left), so I end up cooking with it anyway.

Sorrel has a sort of citrus-y flavor, and it's loaded with Vitamin C, apparently.  The slight sweetness of red onions and leeks complement it nicely.  Purple + bright green = Oscar the Grouch green in this soup, which I can't wait to serve to my kids under that name.

I know it looks weird, but believe me when I say that it really is good.  Once, in my mother-in-law's kitchen,  when I thought no one was looking, I kept sneaking tastes of a sorrel sauce she had made.  Later in the day she said to me in a low voice: "I saw you were dipping into my sauce."  Oh no!  Caught in the act.  "You know, for me that sauce is like a drug," she said.  I realized that she was right: why else would I be sneaking around like that?

1 large bunch of sorrel leaves
3 small leeks
3 small red onions
3 Tablespoons olive oil
a few celery leaves (optional)
sea salt
3 black peppercorns
3 coriander seeds

Rinse the sorrel leaves and pat them dry, or just wipe off the dirt if they're straight from the garden.

Slice the roots and the toughest dark green leaves off of the leeks and slice them lengthwise.  Rinse them thoroughly and pat them dry.  Peel the onions.

Chop the leeks and the onions coarsely.  Place the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.  Add the leeks and onions and stir for one minute. Turn the heat down to medium and cook for a few minutes, until the vegetables look shiny (see picture below).  Be careful not to let them get brown.

Add the sorrel leaves and (a few celery leaves, if you have some around) all at once.  Turn up the heat if necessary, stirring to incorporate them in with the rest.  Cook until the leaves have shrunk entirely.

Sprinkle on a generous amount of sea salt and add just enough water to cover the vegetables.  Add the peppercorns and coriander seeds.  Turn up the heat all the way and bring to a boil, then cover the pan and turn the heat down to low.  Allow the pot to simmer for about 15 minutes.

Turn off the heat and blend the soup with a stick blender (Be careful not to splash hot soup on yourself!  Just make sure the mixing end of the blender is entirely immersed by tilting the pan so all the liquid is at one end.)

I like to add 1/2 cup of soy yogurt per bowl when serving.  Taste and add salt & pepper if necessary.

1 comment:

  1. Looks great and easy to make - I'm going to try this as I've never even attempted to make something with sorrel.

    Love the "Oscar the Grouch" nickname. I made zucchini and spinach soup last weekend, which was so green the name that came to mind was Kermit the Frog soup (although that almost sounds like soup made out of Kermit the Frog... anyhow...).

    Thanks for your comment on my blog, and for following it. Looking forward to more of your recipes...