California is the state known for its water problem and a recent drought. If you live in Southern Cali you are used to the naturaly dry, yellowish landscape for most of the year. This year the landscape has changed dramatically due to abundant rain fall. All of the sudden everything turned green! The rain however brought a lot of weeds to the surface, but that’s actually something I love because I often walk my dog thru the neighborhood and purposely look around for rare edible weeds and plants. My area just happens to be bursting with a one pretty looking weed; somewhat like a clover or shamrock, with bright yellow flowers. The plant has an exceptionally high content of oxalic acid, which cause the acidic taste. Hence, its scientific name Oxalis or, if you prefer, the common terms: sour-grass, or wild sorrel.
Ever since I left Poland, I have been craving that pleasant tart flavor. However, the sorrel I remember from Poland wasn’t the same as the weed from my neighborhood. It looked more like a spinach plant. Its name was the common sorrel or garden sorrel (Rumex Acetosa). I have often wondered why that plant was so hard to get in U.S. Frankly, I was able to spot it only once, at the local farmers market. Poles cook leafy sorrel mostly one way only. They make soup out of it. It can be purchased as concentrate in a jar during winter months.
When I saw that wild sorrel growing all over my neighborhood, I started wondering if I were to use it to make soup, would it taste the same as the Polish one made of leafy sorrel? I decided to give it a try and the results were pretty successful. My California Sorrel Soup had almost an identical flavor and texture as my beloved Polish Sorrel Soup. So, now I know I can cook sorrel soup any time of the year.
Couple more things of interest. The soup has a strange, unattractive, swamp like color and texture. A friend named it a “swamp soup”. Its flavor is acquired, but if you like tart food and are an adventurous foodie, you might like it a lot. The soup is always eaten with hard boiled eggs, that it believed to neutralize some side effects of sorrel’s acidity.
And that’s it! I think you should try to make this soup before sorrel season ends!
Ingredients (for 4 people):
- 1/3-1/2 lbs sour grass/wild sorrel (set aside few smaller springs with leaves and flowers for garnish)
- 1/2 lbs baby potatoes (preferably Golden Yukon)
- 4 medium carrots (peeled)
- 1/2 medium celeriac (peeled and cubed)
- 3 cloves of garlic (peeled and finely chopped)
- 2-3 tsp whole cumin (freshly toasted and finely ground)
- 1 1/2-2 quarts chicken or beef broth (or vegetable)
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- Salt and ground black pepper (to taste)
- hard boiled eggs (2 per person)
- Boil bullion with celleriac, carrots and potatoes with skin on (until carrots are al dente and potatoes cooked through). Take all vegetables (except for celeriac) out of the broth and set aside. Add crashed cumin and sorrel and keep boiling until sorrel gets wilted and starts falling apart (it will change color from bright green to “muddy” dark green). Using hand blender, puree contents of the pot until smooth. Add heavy cream, salt and pepper to your taste. Boil for next 20-30 minutes, then add the vegetables.
- Pour soup with vegetables in the soup bowl, add hard boiled eggs, cut on half. Garnish with sorrel springs and flowers. If you prefer, serve with your favorite bread.
Enjoy and Happy Spring!
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THANK YOU so much for posting the photo of this plant and description of what it tastes like! I lived in California as a child and we used to pick this raw and chew on the stems when we were in the mood for something sour. I have been trying to describe this to my husband and didn’t know the correct name. Now I can show him that it is a real thing! It’s too bad that it doesn’t grow in this form in Pennsylvania; I miss it.
Hi Becky! I am glad my write up help to solve the mystery! Thanks for reading!
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We have this in our garden here in the Philippines! I am building an edible garden with local* weeds and plants. Up until now, the wild sorrel has not come up in my searches as edible! I have only kept it as pretty groundcover and for our stingless bees. Thank you for this! Will definitely try the soup for ourselves!
*Preferably endemic, but introduced ok, too.
Thank you for checking my post. If you like acidic foods I really recommend this soup. It’s really one of my favorites 🙂 It’s a great edible weed 🙂