One of my earliest food memories is walking from our street in a little town in Lancashire to the fields beyond and picking fresh sorrel with my mum to make this soup.
At that time my English was limited and my mum was much amused when one of our English neighbours came to inquire about the “grass” that I had told her we had picked that morning to make into soup.
One of my sisters, much younger than me, came to visit a few weeks ago and out of the blue she suddenly asked if I remembered picking sorrel. She did not know I had just been writing about it.
Yesterday I had lunch with a new Polish friend who was born in Lincolnshire and whilst talking about food our mothers cooked, she too remembered going down to the fields with her mother and her friends to pick basket-fulls of sorrel, much to the bewilderment of their English neighbours.
Rumex acetosa is sorrel – szczaw in Polish.
The word sorrel comes from the Old French – sorele – meaning – sour.
Sorrel belongs to the Polygonaceae family and it is related to the dock – Rumex obtusifolius and to buckwheat.
It has a pointed broad leaf which has a sharp taste due to oxalic acid in the leaves.
At the moment I am growing this in pots in the garden, when I do a sort out in the garden I am going to move some to a patch in the ground.
I tried growing Rumex sanguineus – red veined sorrel once but I found it tasteless.
Szczawowa is such a typical Polish soup made from fresh picked ingredients and has the sourness so loved by the Poles. It is usually served with lots of chopped hard boiled eggs on top.
Because of the oxalic acid in the sorrel do not use cast iron or aluminium pans.
- 4-5 chicken wings
- Lots of chopped sorrel leaves – around 500ml if possible.
- 1 onion – finely chopped
- 1 coarse grated carrot
- 1 tablespoon of vegetable stock powder or vegetable stock cube
- 3-4 peppercorns
- 125ml of soured cream
- Salt to taste
- Chopped hard boiled eggs to serve – at least one per person
- Place 4-5 chicken wings in a pan of water and bring to boil and simmer for about half hour.
- And the chopped onion, grated carrot and peppercorns and bring them to a boil and simmer for another half hour.
- Add the vegetable powder or cube.
- Add chopped sorrel leaves – lots, bring to a boil and then simmer for about 10 minutes.
- Remove the chicken wings (they are not served with the soup).
- Add salt and more ground pepper if liked – it should be sour! (lemony but more so).
- You can do this and then leave for it later – just bring to boil and then simmer when ready to use.
- Add the soured cream and stir this in.
- Have prepared some hard boiled eggs – chopped finely.
- Pour soup into soup plates and sprinkle the chopped eggs over the top to serve.
Served in Royal Doulton – Carnation 1982 – 1998.