I love the refreshing lemon taste of sorrel. You can buy small bunches in gourmet stores, but anyone who has cooked sorrel knows you need more than a bunch.
In Riga, Latvia you can buy sorrel by weight and I made my first sorrel soup using smoked bacon and thick, rich sour cream. My friend Ilze, who has serious Latvian credentials, told me if I got sorrel started in my garden it would grow like wildfire, so I went searching for seeds. No luck.
Then my friends Bruno and Karen, who live in Poitiers, France and keep a patch of stinging nettles just so they can make pasta, sent me French sorrel seeds, which I planted at the end of last summer. Now I have two flourishing plots of sorrel, one in my deck planter and the other in my garden, where so far it has only been attacked by a few slugs as passersby fail to recognize it.
Sorrel is delicious with bacon, a natural with eggs, in a salad, or melt the leaves in butter to create a creamy purée. Now that the heat has arrived I am making cold sorrel soup, which has a wonderfully refreshing lemon acidity. My recipe is an adaption of Margaret Costa's. You might be tempted to use chicken stock, but I think it overpowers the soup, so I use a vegetable stock made from simmering pea pods and mint.
Cook a chopped onion in butter, then add 250g of peeled, diced potato (about 2) and 1 litre of vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, season with salt, pepper, nutmeg and a pinch of sugar. Simmer, partially covered, until the potatoes are cooked then remove from the heat.
Add 250g of sorrel leaves, having removed any thick stems and stir in. Using an immersion blender, blend until smooth. (It is a good idea to cook this soup in a deep pot so you don't end up wearing it). Add more salt to taste, I add about 1 1/2 teaspoons, chill the soup until you want to serve it, but don't serve it ice cold.