Sorrel, the leafy plant, is nice and green, resembles spinach, and has a tart flavor. A lot of people compare its taste to lemons however having eaten it I would say it is a whole lot less tart. It has lots of minerals. Fresh sorrel is usually available at farmers’ markets and specialty stores during the spring and summer. It is a plant you can even grow in your own garden but you have to take care of it. Once you take the leaves to cut and use the sorrel will grow back next year.
Sorrel is a member of the knotweed family which also has such well-known products as rhubarb and buckwheat. Different kinds of sorrel:
- The most common kind is the one which is usually available at markets and nurseries for planting. A deep-rooted perennial which lasts for many years. It has a sharp flavor and arrow-shaped leaves.
- French sorrel can be found in some markets. Its flavor is milder and it has smaller and more rounded leaves.
- Red-veined sorrel with red veins running through the leaves. It has a mild and less tart flavor and is great for salads.
- Sheep’s sorrel grows wild in the U.S. It is just as sour as common sorrel but has smaller leaves.
It can be used as an herb such as parsley or basil. Just chop it up real fine and add it to salad dressings, marinades or stir it into the soup. The tender and green leaves can also be ripped up and added to salads and stir-fries. Its special tart flavor makes it great with potatoes, eggs, and even whole grains. It is tasty with smoked or oily fish such as salmon or mackerel. A typical sorrel accompaniment is sour cream or yogurt since the creaminess of these ingredients makes the flavor less sharp. It can also be added to other cooked greens such as spinach, chard, or kale.
Fresh sorrel keeps for a day or two and should be wrapped in plastic and kept in the fridge. If you’re going to store it for a bit longer then rinse it clean, pat dry and roll the leaves up in a paper towel before putting them in plastic. If you have a lot of sorrels you can cook the leaves until they just wilt and fall apart. Then freeze them for later use.
My mom made two wonderful foods with sorrel:
Tangy Egg and Sorrel Salad
Chopped fresh sorrel
Salt and pepper
This salad can be made as large or small as you want it to be. So boil as many eggs as you need. Chop up fresh sorrel also depending on how tart you want the salad. Mix up some sour cream with some mayonnaise. Adjust for taste with salt and pepper. Chop up the boiled eggs and mix through with the dressing. It’s great as a salad, as a side, or on crackers or bread.
Several bunches of sorrels (depending on how thick you like your soup)
3-4 tbs. of barley (before adding let the barley soak in the water for around 20 minutes)
Cubed medium onion
3-4 cloves of garlic chopped (I really like garlic so I put a handful of cloves whole in soup)
2 carrots cubed
2 or more potatoes cubed
Smoked pork ribs or smoked pork butt (you can substitute for beef soup meat or when the soup is ready at the last add sliced smoked sausage)
2 bay leaves
Some whole black peppers
Several beef bouillon cubes
Salt and pepper
First, if you’re using pork or beef add the meat to a soup pot covered with hot water. Add the bouillon cubes, onion, garlic, carrot, and barley. Add the bay leaves, and black peppers and adjust for seasoning. Once the pot boils put it on low and let the soup boil until the meat and barley are just about tender. Then add the potatoes until they are ready. At the very last add torn-up sorrel leaves and mix through the hot soup. They will wilt right away and will be ready. Take the meat out of the soup. In each bowl chop up a boiled egg, and add the soup and a spoonful of sour cream. Mix the sour cream through the soup and enjoy. Eat the meat with the soup accompanied by horseradish or mustard.
If you choose to use smoked sausage then cook the soup with all of the ingredients except for the meat. When the soup is ready add the sliced sausage and boil for five minutes. Then add the sorrel and just mix through. Serve as above.
You can also make this soup without adding any meat or sausage. In this way, it can be eaten as a cold soup in summer with just boiled egg and sour cream.