A Taste of France From My Garden

By Linda Wiggen Kraft

A plant that should be in everyone’s garden is my favorite and easiest to grow edible: garden sorrel. The tangy tart lemon flavored leaves are a green that can be used in salads, sauces and soups. Most people aren’t familiar with this plant because it is not usually sold in stores or farmers market, yet it was once a common garden plant.

The botanical name is rumex acetosa. It is a perennial hardy to zone 3 that thrives in my garden. The solid green leaves (not the ones with red veins) grow in an 18 to 24 inch clump somewhat similar to a hosta, although more wild looking. It prefers mostly sun. It looks good all growing season even with several cuttings close to the ground to harvest the leaves. Best of all it is ignored by rabbits, squirrels, insects and other pests.

Garden sorrel can be eaten raw in salads and other dishes, or cooked in sauces and soups. It shrinks a lot when cooked. One mature plant makes about a quart or two of soup, so find space for more than one plant to enjoy the many ways it can be eaten. My favorite sorrel treat is Cream of Sorrel Soup from Julia Child’s book Mastering The Art of French Cooking.

Here’s my somewhat edited recipe – (I added more sorrel for a more lemony flavor):

  • 5 or 6 cups thinly chopped strips of sorrel leaves,
  • 6 cups vegetable or chicken stock,
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped onions,
  • 3 tbsp. butter,
  • 1/2 tsp. salt,
  • 3 tbsp. flour,
  • 2 egg yolks,
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream,
  • 2 tbsp. additional butter.

Directions – Bring stock to boil in a pot. In separate large saucepan, sauté onions slowly in butter until clear, not browned. Stir sorrel and salt into saucepan with onions until sorrel is wilted, under moderate heat about 5 minutes. Sprinkle flour onto sorrel and stir for 3 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat and beat in the boiling stock. Return to low heat. Whisk together egg yolks and cream in a large mixing bowl. In small amounts, gradually add 1cup hot soup to bowl with egg and cream mixture. In a thin stream, beat in the rest of the soup to the egg and cream in the bowl. Return the soup to the saucepan and stir over low heat for only1-2 minutes. Remove pan from heat and stir in additional butter. Serve hot. Soup can also be served cold, in which case don’t add the additional butter. (Note: use stainless or enamel pots and pans, aluminum creates a metallic taste with the oxalic acid in the sorrel).

All vegetable gardens should have garden sorrel. It’s as easy to grow five or six plants as to grow one, which may be what will be needed to satisfy the cravings that develop for this tangy creamy soup and other sorrel treats.

Linda Wiggen Kraft is a landscape designer who creates holistic and organic gardens. She is also a mandala artist and workshop leader.
Visit her blog: www.CreativityForTheSoul.com/blog or website: www.CreativityForTheSoul.com. Contact her at 314 504-4266.