Monday, May 17, 2010

Sorrel Seems to Be the Hardest Word

Perhaps not quite the hardest, but it is frequently massacred by people who should know better. Sorrel is pronounced like the color, not Rob Petrie's writing sidekick, Buddy Sorrell.  To confuse matters further, sorrel the leaf is not related to the chestnut-horse sorrel, but to an old German word for sour, which is more than apt.

Last Saturday, when I was planning on making cream of sorrel soup, I got to the market too late; all that was left was a bunch of tender baby leaves, not nearly enough for me.  This week, at the same stand, the sorrel was all grown up, sporting huge coarse leaves and a rather insolent air.  Perhaps I would not be chiffonading this bunch, but wrestling it to the ground.

Sorrel soup  is tartly refreshing, and can be served anywhere along the heat scale from steaming to icy, generally in inverse to the weather.  The day was  relatively warm, so I decided on a lightly chilled soup.

First, peel a medium baking potato and cut it into smallish chunks.  Next, chop about 5 good-sized shallots, totaling about 1/4 cup.  While that was going on, melt a lump of butter (2 tablespoons or so)  in a large pot.  When the butter starts to bubble,  turn down the heat a bit and added the potatoes and shallots. 

 While they're heating,  chop up  five large bunches of sorrel, discarding any thick stems or brownish leaves.  Add to the pot, stirring as they soften.  Bite into a leaf: You'll get a real citrus punch!  Once the leaves are wilted, pour in about five cups of chicken or vegetable stock, bring to a simmer over medium to medium-low heat, and cook until the vegetables are quite soft, from 25 to 40 minutes, depending on your, stove, your pot, and how you chopped the vegetables.  Soup is very forgiving.

Remove from the heat and let cool a bit, so that  you don't burn yourself during the next step, which is pureeing the soup using an immersion blender or food processor.  Leave it a bit chunky , if you'd like, which is better for hot soup or puree it more thoroughly for cold.  Return to the heat, add a cup of heavy cream, bring it to almost, but definitely not, a boil, then turn off.  If serving hot, season and serve.  If serving cold, season more vigorously (cold turns down the temperature on spices), and chill. Don't shove it in the fridge right away, though, as doing so can quickly bring your fridge's temperature down to an unsafe level.

I like to garnish this soup with very thinly sliced young radishes, and serve with popovers.

No comments:

Blog Archive

About Me

My photo
I'm a ninth-generation Brooklyn native living in Manhattan.