Tuesday, April 13, 2010
In which the last of the past meets the first of the new, via soupage. So here some of the last of last year's garden leeks, potatoes, and carrots meet the vanguard of early spring, the chives, the sorrel. I could have added a little mint. It's a variation on a Madeleine Kamman recipe for nettles soup--not that we can't get nettles now, we can, just not in the yard. (Lots of other "weeds" out there, though, and several edible.)
I grew all that stuff, by the way. Proud of meself, I am.
It is puréed, enriched with some cream, topped with a bit of grated Wisconsin "gruyère," or as you please--as Mme Kamman says, it "does not hurt." A dish both rich and green in flavor, the tart nip of sorrel subdued but still influential. A fine transitional soup to say merci and au revoir to the root cellar, and a big bienvenue to the gardening year. If you have sorrel, chives, garlic chives, and mint in your garden you get the first green of spring, year after year, without doing a thing.
Leek and Sorrel Soup
1 large leek, cleaned, sliced crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 medium potatoes (about 8 ounces total) peeled, sliced 1/4-inch or thinner
3 cups chicken stock
1 packed cup young sorrel leaves
1/4 tsp salt
1 small carrot, grated
1/2 cup heavy cream
chives, about a dozen blades
grated cheese, such as gruyère, about a cup, optional
salt and pepper to taste
In a heavy-bottomed soup pot melt the butter and add the leeks. Cook over medium heat until they are soft, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the potatoes and the stock, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and bring to a boil. Line the sorrel leaves up with the stems all facing the same way. Chiffonade up from the bottom, slicing halfway up the leaves. Add the sliced stem ends to the pot, set the top halves of the leaves aside. Cook at a high simmer for about 30 minutes, until the potatoes are very soft, falling apart.
Turn off the heat and let the soup cool for a few minutes, then run it through a food mill or push it through a sieve (you may blend it if you like, before sieving--not necessary if using a food mill). Return the smooth soup to the pot and bring back to a simmer. Set a bit of the grated carrot aside for garnish, and add the rest to the soup. Cook for 5 minutes. Chiffonade the rest of the sorrel, and set a little aside for garnish. Add the rest to the soup. Chop the chives, save some for garnish if you like, add the rest to the soup. Add the cream and cook another couple of minutes without letting the soup come to a boil. Add a few grinds of black pepper if you like, taste for salt.
Serve with crusty bread and a green salad.
Text and photos copyright 2010 by Brett Laidlaw. Recipe adapted from When French Women Cook by Madeleine Kamman, one of my favorite books.