With weeks of recipe developing still ahead of me for my forthcoming cookbook, the recipes on the blog have been waning — mostly because at the end of a long day in the kitchen, the last thing I want to do is cook some more. It’s a little ironic that after making all these beautiful, healthful meals for my book, what I’m really craving as soon as the last dish is washed is a big. fat. greasy. helping of fast-food fries. !!! (Don’t tell my editor though.)
But when guilt gets the best of me, I whip up a big pot of this comforting soup. These days, I’m all about simple one-pot meals that will take me through the next day (or until I call for delivery). It’s just the thing I need when my feet are throbbing from standing all day, my back is aching from bending over the oven, and the couch is calling me to sit in front of the TV and eat bowls and bowls of this soup in my lap.
This recipe makes use of all the things I typically already have in my pantry (carrots, potatoes, leeks) but adds the highly underused sorrel from my garden. While I often harvest sorrel to add some tang to salads, I almost never cook with the leaves, much less put them in soup in place of sturdier greens like chard or kale. I was always afraid that as soon as I dropped the leaves into a pot, they’d melt away into the bubbling broth.
As it turns out, people have been making sorrel soup for ages and that lemony flavor I love in the raw really wakes up an otherwise ordinary soup.
Sorrel soup is a French classic… but this is not it. We’re not pulling a potage crème d’oseille à la Julia Child, no eggs, no flour. This is a creamy, comforting concoction that’s more like a vegetable soup for a chilly winter day, but somehow the addition of sorrel — a bright and tangy herb — perks it all up and makes it seem more springy.
Traditionally, sorrel soup is made with True French sorrel (Rumex scutatus). This delicate variety is smaller and milder than common sorrel (Rumex acetosa), though you can use them interchangeably depending on your taste. I use my True French sorrel leaves whole but with the larger-leaved common sorrel, you might want to chiffonade them or wilt them very well.
If you don’t have any sorrel, substitute a mild, delicate green like spinach, but add a squeeze of lemon to your bowl before you eat.
Served with a loaf of crusty bread and a glass of white wine, it’s a satisfying, no-fuss meal for a weeknight.
Creamy Leek and Sorrel Soup
Makes 6 servings
2 leeks (white parts only)
1 carrot, diced
1 russet potato, diced
2 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 sprigs fresh thyme
6 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup uncooked white rice
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup packed sorrel
Fresh cracked black pepper
Slice the leeks in half lengthwise, then rinse the layers under running water to remove any grit. Cut the leeks crosswise into thin half-moons and set aside.
In a large pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the leeks and garlic and saute until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the carrots, potatoes, and thyme and saute for about 10 minutes.
Pour in the broth, rice, and black pepper, bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer uncovered until the rice is fully cooked and the potatoes are tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Add the cream and sorrel to the pot and heat through until the leaves are wilted.
Before serving, remove the thyme sprigs and season with cracked black pepper to taste.