Portion/Yield:Serves 6 as a starter or light lunch
The joy of growing your own vegetables is that not only do you have the privilege to pick them when they’re ready to harvest, but it’s also a clear reminder of the season we are currently in.
Growing sorrel is easy, especially the hardier buckler leaf variety. I just stick the plant in a large pot with plenty of fresh compost and it grows happily. When winter comes along it will die back, but then lo and behold next spring it’s back up and growing again – a low maintenance plant providing maximum pleasure.
The brightness and beauty of this delicious, vibrant green soup are perfect reminders that spring is in the air. If it’s grey and cold outside, serve it hot with a large chunk of freshly baked bread; if it’s warm and sunny outside, serve the soup chilled, accompanied by a glass of chilled Pinot gris.
My best tips for how to keep this soup a bright green colour are to ensure that the cooking time for the greens is as short as possible and, if serving the soup chilled, that it is chilled (preferably over ice) as quickly as possible. I also recommend making this soup in small batches.
Ingredients & Method
For the buckler leaf sorrel and spinach soup
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 400g potatoes, finely sliced
- 1 onion, sliced
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- a pinch of cayenne pepper
- 1.2 litres good quality vegetable stock
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 200g fresh buckler leaf sorrel, rinsed and drained
- 200g fresh spinach leaves, rinsed and drained
- sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- extra virgin olive oil and a little crème fraîche, to serve
- a mixture of edible fresh flowers (such as chive, thyme or nasturtium flowers), if available, and small fresh herb sprigs (such as buckler leaf sorrel leaves, chives or chervil), to garnish
For the sorrel pesto
- 30g pine nuts
- 20g golden linseeds
- 80g fresh buckler leaf sorrel, rinsed and drained
- 30g finely grated fresh Parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons rapeseed oil
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 4 sprigs of fresh mint
- 1/4 small bunch of fresh parsley
Make the soup. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan, then sauté the potatoes, onion and garlic, with the cayenne pepper and salt and pepper added, over a high heat for about 2 minutes or until lightly coloured. Add the stock and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, cover and cook for about 10 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Add the nutmeg and lemon juice, then remove the pan from the heat.
While the soup is cooking, blanch the sorrel and spinach together in a separate pan of boiling salted water for 1–2 minutes or until just tender, then drain and plunge into iced cold water to ensure they cool rapidly and keep their colour. Drain well and add to the soup, along with the lemon zest.
Carefully transfer the soup to a blender and purée until smooth. If serving the soup cold, pour it into a bowl, then chill over ice in the fridge for about 1 hour before serving. If serving the soup hot, return it to the pan and reheat gently. Taste and adjust the seasoning before serving, if necessary.
Meanwhile, make the sorrel pesto. Toast the pine nuts and linseeds in a hot, dry, non-stick frying pan over a high heat for 2–3 minutes or until golden brown all over, stirring. Remove from the heat and leave to cool completely. Once cool, place the toasted pine nuts and linseeds in a blender, along with all the remaining pesto ingredients and blend together until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste, then transfer the pesto to a serving dish and leave at room temperature for about 20 minutes before serving, to allow the flavours to develop.
Serve the soup in bowls, either chilled or hot, and serve each portion with a splash of extra virgin olive oil, a few drops of crème fraîche and a dollop of the sorrel pesto. Garnish with edible flowers and herbs and serve immediately.
Put any leftover pesto in a clean jar or small airtight container and cover the surface with a little olive oil or place a piece of cling film directly on the surface. Cover and store in the fridge for up to 3 days.