Sorrel, have you discovered it? Sorrel has a distinct flavor and will surely not be confused with other herbs. At first glance it looks like your ordinary leafy green, but don’t be deceived. When you bite in, your taste buds are surprised with a burst of lemony, citrusy, tartness. I like to add a handful to a mixed green salad for a little tanginess. It’s also commonly used [in French cooking] to make butter sauces for fish and in soups. Today, I made sorrel soup. I really like soup, especially green soups. I made this winter version a few months back, but today is all about the spring harvest.
In addition to sorrel, there is a small field of greens and assorted vegetables hiding in this soup — asparagus, spinach, mint, fennel, chives, and onions — a taste of spring in a bowl. The addition of barley makes it a bit heartier (brown or wild rice would also work). You can also crumble some cheese on top, feta would be great, and finish with a nice drizzle of good quality olive oil.
It’s green leaves, unfortunately, turn a rather drab shade of green when cooked. To spruce it up, I added a few purple garlic chive flowers, toasted pine nuts, and fresh mint leaves If you can get past its color, it’s a rather unusual and refreshing soup that really showcases what’s in season.
An assortment of spring veggies…
Sorrel and Spring Vegetable Soup with Barley
Adapted from Anna Thomas’s Love Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 yellow onions, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
8 ounces sorrel
6 ounces spinach
1/2 cup chopped garlic chives
3/4 cup packed fresh mint leaves
1 large fennel bulb
8 ounces asparagus
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
freshly ground black pepper
1 cup cooked barley, brown or wild rice
fruity green olive oil
crumbled feta cheese
toasted pine nuts (or pumpkin seeds)
garlic chive blossoms
thinly sliced mint leaves
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a nonstick pan. When hot, add the chopped onions and a pinch of salt, and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes (add a tablespoon of water if the onions start to brown to quickly, to slow down the cooking process).
Meanwhile, wash and coarsely chop the sorrel, spinach, chives, and mint leaves. Trim and thinly slice the fennel bulbs. Snap the tough bottoms off the asparagus and cut into small pieces. Combine all the greens except the mint in a large soup pot with 4 cups of water and a teaspoon of salt. Lower the heat and simmer, covered for 30 minutes.
Add the caramelized onions to the soup, along with the vegetable broth, and the mint. Simmer another 5 minutes. Puree the soup in a blender in batches or with an immersion blender. Taste, and season with more salt if needed. Grind in a generous amount of black pepper.
Place a tablespoon or so of the cooked barley in each bowl. Ladle the soup on top. Finish with a drizzle of fruity olive oil, and any or all of the suggested garnishes.