Garden Club of Chester, New Jersey
During the Craft Fair, I found myself talking with one of our avid gardeners, Nancy, about French sorrel. It surprises me that such a delicious green is not widely known in America. French sorrel (Rumex scutatus) and garden sorrel (Rumex acetosa) are closely related to the weed commonly found in our backyards, sheep sorrel (Rumex acetosella). All sorrels are edible and have tangy, lemony tasting leaves (hence, its name sorrel which comes from German and French words meaning sour). French and garden sorrels are frequently used in Europe as a culinary addition to salads, omelets, soups, sandwiches, and other dishes. They are often used interchangeably or in combination with spinach.
Garden sorrel has large, broad green leaves and forms upright clumps reaching 12 to 18 inches tall. French sorrel has narrower leaves, more compact form, and a mat-forming growth habit.
Sorrels are surprisingly easy to grow. They are hardy in zones 5 to 9 and prefer full sun but will grow happily in partial shade as well. Garden sorrel thrives in moist conditions. French sorrel, on the other hand, does better at a well-drained location with less moisture content in the soil. Sorrels can be grown in potagers, flower beds, incorporated in borders, and planted in containers. Once established, sorrels can live for 8 to 10 years providing you with a steady supply of fresh leaves from spring to late fall. Deadheading is usually required for the plants to avoid free self-sowing. Sorrels can be easily propagated by dividing clumps in spring or fall or by sowing seeds in early spring. Usually, they are not bothered by insects and generally disease free.
Spinach and Sorrel Soup
Heat oil (or butter) in a saucepan. Add onion and cook over medium heat until translucent. Add potato and carrot and sauté them for approximately 2 minutes. Gradually add vegetable stock, salt, and pepper and bring it to boil. Add diced celery. Continue to cook until all vegetables are tender. Finely chop spinach and sorrel leaves. Add the greens to the stock and cook for approximately 5 minutes. In a small bowl, beat egg with a fork until thoroughly combined. Pour the egg mixture slowly to the saucepan while mixing the soup quickly with a wooden spoon. Bring the soup to boil. Turn off the heat and adjust the seasoning. Serve hot with sour cream or yogurt.Bon appetite!
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