Spinach and Sorrel Soup, The Sonnet

Soup is one of the best foods ever inven­ted, so why are most of the ref­er­ences to it in lit­er­at­ure unashamedly dis­mal? Soup is usu­ally a meta­phor for hard times, dour land­ladies and dubi­ous chefs. The 20th cen­tury Amer­ic­an author Mar­garet Hal­sey cap­tured the ‘sad soup genre’ per­fectly when she said that the broth she was served ‘tasted as if it had been drained out of the umbrella stand.’

So here comes the fight­back. This spin­ach and sor­rel soup should have a son­net writ­ten about it. Or a nov­el in which the prot­ag­on­ist is restored to good health and good for­tune after just one spoon­ful. It’s the rich, deep, full-throttle green of a vin­tage racing car and gives instant vigour and zip to any­one who so much as looks at it. 

Sor­rel is a beau­ti­ful herb,  espe­cially this red-veined vari­ety, but it’s often hard to find in the shops. I have a friend who keeps an allot­ment purely so she can main­tain her sor­rel sup­plies. But this week I spot­ted an entire tray of pot­ted sor­rel in my loc­al shop, with reduced  price stick­ers attached.  So I res­cued the lot.

You may know by now that I love pic­nics and long walks. My mum used to put a flask of soup in one pock­et of her coat and hot cheese, tomato and mus­tard rolls in the oth­er and we would set off. Spin­ach and sor­rel soup would be the per­fect walk­ing com­pan­ion. Make it, eat it and start writ­ing in rhym­ing couplets.

Spinach and Sorrel Soup

Serves 4

1 floury potato, chopped into smallish, even-sized chunks

I medi­um onion, cut into sim­il­ar sized pieces

1 clove gar­lic, sliced

1 knob but­ter

500ml veget­able stock

400g fresh spin­ach, coarsely chopped

40 sor­rel leaves — the sor­rel gives a del­ic­ate lem­on back­ground fla­vour, but if you can’t find sor­rel, add an extra 50g or so of spin­ach and add a little grated lem­on zest

Hand­ful of micro herbs such as cori­ander and red amar­anth to sprinkle over at the end — or just some chopped chives

Spoon­ful of cream (option­al)

Salt and freshly ground black pep­per

Melt the but­ter in a pan and cook the onion, gar­lic and potato togeth­er gently for five minutes or so, without col­our­ing them. Add the veget­able stock and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down to a gentle sim­mer for around 15 minutes until the potato is soft. 

Add 200g of the spin­ach and all the sor­rel leaves, sea­son with salt and pep­per and cook for a fur­ther five minutes. The sor­rel leaves give a del­ic­ate lem­on back­ground fla­vour, but if you can’t find sor­rel, just add an extra 50g or so of spin­ach instead and a little grated lem­on zest. Take the pan off the heat and add the remain­ing uncooked spin­ach. Blend imme­di­ately and adjust the season­ing. Serve with a drizzle of cream, if using, and a sprink­ling of herbs. Adding half the spin­ach at the end keeps the mag­ni­fi­cent deep emer­ald col­our of the soup. 

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17 thoughts on “Spinach and Sorrel Soup, The Sonnet

  1. I love spin­ach soup but I’ve nev­er used sor­rel in it, just lem­on. The res­ult is excel­lent. Per­haps not quite up to this but its a good way to use spin­ach. Super pho­tos as usu­al.

  2. Thanks Jakey — let me know if you try the soup with sor­rel. It’s pos­sibly my ima­gin­a­tion, but the addi­tion of sor­rel seems to make it even more nour­ish­ing some­how.
    Charlie

  3. Charlie,

    As prom­ised, a deli­cious fusion of soup and lit­er­at­ure with lash­ings of lovely pho­tos!! So nice to meet you in per­son!!

  4. A son­net should be writ­ten in praise of sor­rel soup ~ I grow it in my garden in France and I am rather pas­sion­ate about it!
    Lovely blog, and as an ex Eng­lish Lit­er­at­ure teach­er, I love the lit­er­ary ref­er­ences that are scattered through­out your posts.….
    Kar­en @ Lav­ender and Lovage
    PS: Amaz­ing pho­tos too ~ mine are pretty drab lately as I am using my old point and shoot; my Can­on EOS400 died on me a week ago.…I am angling for a new one and keep leav­ing Amazon cam­era pages open on the screen on our fam­ily PC for my hus­band to read.….no joy yet!

  5. Kar­en, you’ve made my day — thank you very much for your cheer­ing com­ments. I hope the Amazon tac­tic works in the end.
    Charlie

  6. A soup so green, so filled with sor­rel fla­vour;
    The per­fect thing to sip, to slurp, to savour.

    There you go — and in iambic pen­ta­met­er too ;o)

    Soup looks glor­i­ously, vibrantly green — love that firts pic!

  7. What a beau­ti­ful soup. It looks so earthy and nour­ish­ing — i ima­gine it would do you a lot of good 🙂 Just dis­covered your blog via Twit­ter — its beau­ti­ful. Will def­in­itely be return­ing.

  8. Hello thelittle­l­oaf and wel­come to Eggs On The Roof. Thanks so much for your com­ment — it made my day.
    Charlie

  9. Pingback: Still Life with Soup | Eggs On The Roof

  10. Hello Charlie
    I’ve just found your web­site.
    I was look­ing for a soup recipe which com­bines sor­rel & spin­ach as I have a load
    grow­ing in my garden that is begin­ning to bolt so needs to be eaten. I look for­ward to mak­ing & tast­ing your soup. My Mum used to make sor­rel soup for us (she was Pol­ish) which she added chopped hard-boiled eggs to.
    I look for­ward to explor­ing your site 🙂

    • Hello Wanda and wel­come to Eggs On The Roof. I really hope that you enjoy the soup and that it evokes memor­ies of your mum’s ver­sion.

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