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.



  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. Thanks so much Jennifer – comments on my blog mean a huge amount… and great to meet you too

  5. 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 LovagePS: 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!

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

  7. Oh sorrelWith you I have no quarrel…(sorry!)Gorgeous pics and love the literary references.

  8. 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!

  9. 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.

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

  11. 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 🙂

    1. 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.

      1. Wanda, that’s great – I’m so pleased. And even more so that you’re about to make it again!

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