Just like that, summer is ending. It feels as if it barely got started. It’s back to school time and soon the leaves will be turning colour and the air will have that distinct chill to it that whispers fall. Until then the afternoons are bright and hot and the evenings are balmy until the sun dips, then they are refreshingly cool, wooing you to stay outside after dinner and have just one more glass of wine.
Despite its late start, it was a nice summer. The sun seemed so precious that we crammed a lot into the bright, hot days, knowing that any one of them could be the last. It was busy, fun and productive. One of the most exciting elements of this summer was the successful maturation of (most of) the garden. We have eaten more beans in the last 6 weeks than in our whole lives! Radishes and fresh greens were growing so fast we couldn’t keep up and the tomatoes are just now gracing us with their red, yellow, orange and deep purple bounty. Even our poor carrots, which over all did poorly, did something: enough for a few salads and few jars of pickles for mid winter hors d’ouevres. Sure, the zucchini and pumpkins have struggled, but all in all, for our first year, it was a success and we have already planted autumn/winter crops to take us through the colder months.
We planted so many things, and so much of it grew beautifully, but nothing was quite so voracious as the sorrel. Tucked between purple kale and a rainbow of Swiss chards, one small sorrel plant became a behemoth bush, pushing up countless deep green spade shaped leaves. If you have never had sorrel and have the opportunity, try it. It’s a somewhat old fashioned green that for one reason or another has fallen out of favour. Stronger and more astringent than spinach, it is an assertive and nutritious green. Raw it has a tart, green apple crossed with spinach kind of flavour. Cooked it has a milder, more earthy taste.
When I was very small and we still lived on the farm, I recall eating shallow, cold bowls of sorrel soup. It was emerald green, creamy, and always had slices of hard boiled egg floating in it and cold, boiled potato. You’d spoon a slice or two of the potato into your bowl, scoop up some egg and the bright, deep green soup. The flavour was intense, fresh and rich all at once and it dazzled against its benign garnishes. Because I have never found sorrel in any market, I have never recreated this soup until this summer. The sorrel grew so immense that it threatened to take over the world so there was no guilt in cutting it back and making up a big, cold jug of sorrel soup. We’ll be having it tonight with grilled fish and some very cold sauvignon blanc to punctuate the end of the summer season and celebrate the gifts of the garden and the summer sun. Cheers!
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
4 C sorrel leaves (packed)
6 C spinach leaves (packed), divided
1/2 C leek, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, smashed
1 C chicken or vegetable stock
1 C cream
sea salt and pepper, to taste
Wash and dry the spinach and sorrel thoroughly. In a large sauce pan, over medium heat, melt the butter into the olive oil. Add the chopped leek and garlic, stirring frequently to soften. Do not allow to brown. Add 4 C spinach and sorrel, stirring to wilt them. When they are fully wilted, spoon the greens, with the leek and garlic into a food processor (or blender – just be careful if using a blender that the steam doesn’t blow the lid off). Puree completely, about 1 minute. Add the remaining 2 C spinach and continue to puree. With the processor running, add the stock. Once fully incorporated, add the cream. Taste and check for seasoning. Add salt and pepper as needed.
Chill the soup thoroughly.
Serve chilled garnished with:
Cold hard boiled egg (chopped or sliced) and cold sliced boiled potato