sorrel soup, sorrel spring soup, sorrel, French sorrel, garden sorrel, sauerampfer suppe, sauerampfer, herb soup

FTW Kitchen: Sorrel Soup

By Catherine Winter

Here in zone 4, very few greens sprout up until mid May at the very earliest. While friends in England start posting photos of snowdrops and daffodils in February, I have to wait until the snow clears (a few months after that…) to see the first greens unfurl. Fortunately, right after dandelions make their appearance, sorrel springs up in great, abundant heaps, just asking to be devoured.

sorrel, garden sorrel, French sorrel, lemon sorrel, perennial vegetable, perennial sorrel

I grow a variety of herbs and perennial greens in my potager garden, just outside my kitchen door, and it’s always a delight to bite into the first, lemony sorrel leaves when they show up after the long, cold Quebec winter. Springtime came earlier than usual this year (which was a delightful surprise), so I have chives and thyme coming up as well. Since the evenings out here are still quite chilly, I decide to gather a bunch of sorrel and put some soup together for dinner.

I grew up with sauerampfer soup, but my family’s recipe was very heavy on cream and egg yolks, and I found it to be way too heavy. I’ve adapted my own recipe to incorporate whatever’s in season (and in the fridge), and omitted the cream and eggs: I use fat-free plain yoghurt instead.

sorrel soup, sorrel soup recipe, sorrel soup ingredients, making sorrel soup

Ingredients:

Olive oil or butter or Earth Balance (for frying)
1 small to medium onion, peeled and diced
1/2 teaspoon thyme, finely chopped
1 small bunch green onions or chives, finely chopped
2 medium potatoes, grated or finely chopped
A couple of big handfuls of sorrel leaves, shredded
4 cups of your favourite stock (I use chicken stock, but leek or onion stock works really well in this
1/3 cup plain yoghurt or sour cream (dairy or vegan)
Lemon juice (fresh, not concentrated!)
Salt and black pepper

Heat your butter or oil in a large stock pot on medium-high heat, and add the onions and thyme, stirring often until the onions soften and start to turn golden.

Add the stock, green onions, and potatoes, and stir well. Bring this mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Let that bubble away merrily until the potatoes have softened.

Toss in those sorrel leaves, which will turn a sort of murky olive green as soon as it hits the heat: don’t be alarmed, it’ll still taste fabulous.

Use an immersion blender to puree approximately half of the soup, or scoop out half of it and put it through a standard blender or food processor, adding it back to the pot when you’re done. If you find the soup too thick, feel free to add some more stock to thin it out. Stir in the yoghurt or sour cream, and a tablespoon or so of lemon juice. Add salt to taste, and feel free to add more lemon if you like as well.

sorrel soup, sorrel soup recipe, immersion blender, pureeing soup

The sour cream or yoghurt are optional and are just used to make the soup creamy, but you can also use pureed cannellini beans if you’d like to add protein and a silky texture. Some people prefer not to mix the sour cream into the dish, but instead add a dollop of it into the bowl just prior to serving, along with chopped raw sorrel, parsley, or dill.

I made this soup with what I had on hand, but it can be adapted so many ways. Fresh sweet green peas make a great addition as soon as they’re available, and swapping out half of the sorrel for spinach adds more iron and greenness to the pot. I’ve added leftover roasted zucchini, used cauliflower instead of potato… but the one common denominator is always the gorgeous lemony bite from the sorrel.

Do you grow this plant in your garden? How do you like to prepare it? Let us know!

 

Photos by the author, and lead image is by Neal Foley via Flickr Creative Commons.

dandelion, dandelions, edible dandelions, foraged edibles, foraged food, wild foods

Early Spring Dandelions? Use Them for Salad

By Angelina Williamson

A lot of people associate salad eating with summer. There’s no denying that summer yields fantastic salads, but I’m a big fan of winter and early spring salads too. Here’s one that I made using three things from my (zone 9b) winter garden: mache, flat leaf Italian parsley, and dandelion greens.

I don’t buy many out-of-season vegetables but one exception I make is for hothouse cucumbers. I happened to have one so I included it. Before I tell you how I put this salad together I’d like to list some other great ingredients you might have on hand that make fantastic cold weather salads.

dandelion greens, edible dandelions, edible wild greens, wild dandelion

Great Winter/Early Spring Salad Ingredients

Beans are a fantastic substantial ingredient to include in salads that will help give you the energy and protein you need to get through cold dark days that may or may not include activities such as shoveling snow. My favorite bean to use in salads are navy and cannellini beans which taste essentially the same but cannellinis are larger. Other great beans to include in salads are chick peas (garbanzos), black beans, and kidney beans. But don’t be limited by this list. If you grew your own dried beans, cook them up and try them out in a salad.

When summer vegetables and fruits are out of season there are a lot of other fantastic vegetables and fruits to add to your salads such as roasted: beets, cauliflower, carrots, winter squash (cut in cubes first), celery root, potato, brussels sprouts, and broccoli. Crisp apples, European and Asian pears, grapefruits, and oranges (mandarin or blood oranges are extra wonderful), all work well together.

Some other great ingredients are nuts and seeds (walnuts, pine nuts, almonds, and pepitas), marinated or pickled summer vegetables, dried fruits (cranberries, sour cherries, and tomatoes), and baked tofu.

In my growing zone, late fall to early spring is the best time for growing any greens, especially tender greens. If your winters are too harsh for lettuces, try growing in a cold frame or indoors. But even if the more tender greens don’t happen in your zone until summer, experiment with the heartier greens as your salad base.

Winter Salad.png
White Bean, Sun Dried Tomato, Kalamata, and Dandelion Salad

  • 3 cups navy beans, cooked
  • 1/2 cup Kalamata olives, sliced
  • 1/2 cup sundried tomatoes, sliced
  • 1/4 cup dandelion greens, julienned
  • 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, minced
  • 2 tsbp of your favorite vinaigrette

Mix all of the above ingredients together in a bowl and let it sit in the fridge (or covered on your counter) for about a half an hour. You can eat this just as it is or you can add this to a bed of greens (dress the greens with additional vinaigrette) and top it off with feta cheese as I’ve done in the picture above. I happened to have a hothouse cucumber in need of being used up so I decorated the edge of my salad with them.

Dandelion leaves are packed with potassium, vitamins A, C, and B6, as well as iron and magnesium, making them powerhouses of nutrition after winter’s scarcity. Just please remember that if you’re living in a colder zone, dandelion flowers are the first real food of the year for many bees and pollinating species, while the leaves nourish wild rabbits and other mammal friends. If you gather wild dandelions for food, please do so sparingly in order to ensure that others have food too.

Changing Seasons in Tasmania – Summer’s End Rose Hip Ketchup

By Kel Flowers

I think most of us have some kind of treasured memory strongly associated with a favourite season. A particular Christmas perhaps with memories of frost-nipped fingers, the scent of peppermint and hot chocolate; a Summer spent by the river filled with the scent of sun-warmed mud and the hum of bees in the hedgerows.
My memory is of a beloved Autumnal day spent walking on the village Green. The wind was high and cold with a fine but soaking rain falling sideways; the smell of Autumn that is so hard to describe but unmistakable when encountered. Elm and Oak leaves on the turn, hedges filled with the last of the late summer berries—hawthorn, rose hip, elderberry, blackberry.

hippy

I crave those glorious Autumnal days every year, and look forward to them more than any other. So imagine my joy when this year Autumn seems to be coming early! While my Northern Hemisphere brothers and sisters are still searching for signs of Spring, here in Tasmania we’ve already had our first frost along with a healthy slew of wet windy days and frankly quite chilly nights.
Summer will no doubt rear its head again soon for one last hurrah and have us all melting and moaning about the heat, and it can do its thing ripening the last of the berries and haws.

This year I wanted to try something a bit different. I’m not really a huge fan of sweet things—jams and jellies usually sit forgotten in the fridge. Not that they are bad! My mother makes some pretty spectacular jams and whatnots from her numerous fruit trees and berry bushes, but to be honest I’m a Vegemite girl (go on, make a face and gagging motions). Grow up in Australia and it’s kind of a given.

But then rose hips started ripening and beckoning to me. If not jelly, then what? A quick Google offered up rose hip ketchup. It’s basically a traditional tomato sauce with rose hip puree instead of tomatoes, and if like me, you suck at growing tomatoes, feel free to pillage a bag of hips from some rose bushes and make this instead.

Aside from being absolutely packed with Vitamin C, this sauce tastes pretty good too!

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups rose hips
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground allspice
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground clove
  • pinch of ground nutmeg
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar

hippy2

First collect your hips! Really this is a no-brainer, any kind of rose bush will do. You can go for the big fat cultivar hips or the small wild rose hips, and I’ve made batches from both. Either way just make sure they are spray and chemical free bushes. I steal my rose hips from my Mother’s garden so I know they are truly organic.

Gather your hips when they are a nice cheery red and a little soft. After the first frost is usually a good time.

Cut off the stems and the remnants of the flower.

Simmer your hips in water for 20 mins or so or until you can squish one between your fingers.

 

If you have big fat cultivar rose hips, you can always de-seed them before cooking by cutting them in half and scooping out the innards. Remove the seeds and ALL of the fluff. That fluff is irritating to your stomach (and can be to your skin too). If you have wild rose hips, however, skip de-seeding them this way and cook them first.

Next you need to push the soft hips through a fine mesh sieve. I won’t lie, this bit can be tedious. Put on some music and scare your neighbours with your singing. Depending on the size of your sieve, push a handful at a time through the mesh with the back of a spoon. Do this over a clean bowl. Once you are mostly just pushing on seeds, scoop out the seed/fluff and dump it into another bowl. Keep going until you’ve run out of hips.

ketch2

Now put aside your bowl of lovely thick rose hip puree, and grab the bowl of squished innards. Dump the innards back into the pot, add water so it all swims freely, and cook again for 5 mins or so. Repeat the squishing/sieving. If it looks like there’s still more to be had from the goop, go again. Three times should do it if you have the patience (or a food mill if you have one. Use it.)

You should now have a gloriously smooth and rich rose hip puree. Have a taste so you know what you’re dealing with. Sort of tangy fruity sharp.

Put your puree in a heavy-bottom saucepan along with the rest of the ingredients and some water, and simmer until the onions are nice and soft. Whiz into a smooth sauce with a stick blender, and simmer down to a thickness that agrees with you. It will thicken up a little when cooled, so allow for that.

ketch

Taste your creation. Keep in mind that it will mellow out after a few days in the fridge. The spices will round out and the vinegar tang will mellow considerably. The quantities of spices are really just a guideline, if you think it needs more whatever, add more whatever! I like things pretty punchy, so I tend to up the garlic and spice in just about everything.

Eat it with anything you’d usually put ketchup on. And maybe with some things you’d not normally put ketchup on, who am I to say?

If you plan on bottling your ketchup (and you should, after all that effort) follow your usual rules for sterilising your bottles and lids and whatnot.
If you don’t know how to do that, well what are you waiting for. A whole world of canning and preserving fun awaits you! There are countless resources online and in print.

Get learning and happy hubble-bubbling.

corn salad, mache, lamb's lettuce, rapunzel

Winter Greens: Grow Mache in Zone 9b

by Angelina Williamson

Many years ago I got a free packet of mache with a seed order and meant to try it out, so I kept the packet forever in less-than-ideal conditions, and never planted it. Then, late last fall, I mixed the old seeds in with lettuce I was planting. I figured it was better to throw them in the soil instead of the garbage, but I honestly didn’t think any of them would germinate. Most of them did, however, and I had a lush bed of winter lettuce and mache. Looking back, I can’t believe I waited so long to discover how wonderful mache is! I hope if you’ve never tried it you’ll give it a chance too.

mache, corn salad, lamb's lettuce, winter greens, winter lettuce, winter salad

Mache grows in loose, low rosettes and is also known as: lamb’s lettuce, corn salad, field salad, nut salad, and Rapunzel. It’s a cool-weather crop and in zone 9b doesn’t need winter protection. We’ve just had a long stretch of nights with temps below 36℉  and my mache is undamaged, unlike many other plants in my garden that were damaged by the frost. I will give the suggested planting instructions below, but first I will tell you that you can completely ignore them as I did and be reasonably sure of a good outcome. Sprinkle the seed over whatever area you want them to grow and scratch them into the soil. You can sprinkle them mixed with lettuce seed as I did and have a bed of beautiful mixed greens.

mache-illustration

The more seed you broadcast in one space, the more thinning you’ll need to do which is perfect for a bed that gives you food continuously for a couple of months. I let a couple of my plants go to seed when the bed was nearly done so this year I didn’t have to plant any mache at all, I’ve got tons of it from volunteers. I’m going to share a picture of the bed they popped back up in, but don’t be scared: it’s not a tidy bed. I want you to see that you can cram mache in almost anywhere. The roots are delicate and small so they don’t interfere too much with the growth of other plants.

mache-bed

This bed is just 4’ x 3’. I have already harvested a big colander full of mache and there’s a ton more to harvest. This bed has also got kale, chard, and beets growing with the mache volunteers. (There are also some California poppies, false dandelions, unidentified other weeds, and two surprise shallots). This size bed will yield several good harvests of mache and as I harvest it, the other winter greens will get bigger as they get more room. I also grew radishes in this same bed but already harvested them. The main thing I want to illustrate here is that mache is small, but you can get a lot of it out of a small space.

If you want to plant it in your own garden, follow these growing directions:

  • Plant mache any time between October and March in zone 9b
  • It takes 10-20 days to emerge
  • Plant seeds ¼” to ½” deep
  • Space the seeds ½” apart
  • Space rows 12” apart
  • Begin thinning when there are 3-4 leaves
  • Thin to 4” apart
  • 60 days to maturity

Mache is tender, even when mature, and has a delicate nutty flavor. It’s wonderful on sandwiches and in salads. When you first start thinning your plants, they will be very small so you’ll probably start by adding them to other greens in a salad, but once they get bigger you’ll want to make a salad where mache is the star because it truly stands out on its own merits. Behold one of the three salads I got from that one colander harvest:

mache-salad

This salad is comprised of: mache, mandarins (also from my garden!), thinly sliced red onion, toasted walnuts, and kalamata olives dressed with a mustard vinaigrette. A simple refreshing zone 9b winter salad. Mache has three times the vitamin C that lettuce has and is packed with other nutrients including iron and potassium.

If you haven’t grown mache and are inspired to do so, here are two great sources for seeds that I know of:

Botanical Interests (this is where I got the seed for the mache in the pics above)

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

 

Photos via the author and Wikimedia commons