A colleague gave me two generous fistfuls of sorrel from her garden recently. “Oh boy,” I thought. “Schav for dinner!”
Schav is a traditional Russian-Eastern European soup of sorrel and potato, cooked in chicken broth and sometimes enriched with a beaten egg. Some versions serve the soup as prepared; others, including mine, puree the soup. It’s refreshing served cold, and heartening served hot. A dollop of sour cream atop each bowl is customary either way, although these days I’m more likely to use thick, drained Greek-style yogurt.
Eaten cold, the soup is also generally garnished with finely diced cucumber and radish.
Some recipes suggest a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to further sharpen the flavors; others suggest tempering sorrel’s citric tang with a little sugar. I skipped the lemon juice, finding the sorrel bright enough, and caramelized the chopped onion to provide a measure of sweetness to balance the soup.
Once you can recognize the plant, sorrel’s easy to find in the wild for foraging, and it’s easy to grow in your garden, too. You’ll find more information at
Here’s my recipe for Schav:
To serve 4:
2 fistfuls sorrel leaves, about 3 cups, washed and spun dry
2 tablespoons butter
½ large sweet onion, chopped
5 to 6 small fingerling potatoes or new potatoes
2 cups chicken broth
1 egg, lightly beaten
Salt and pepper, to taste
Pat the sorrel leaves dry, stack them and cut into ribbons. Set aside.
In a large, heavy saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, heat the butter over medium heat. When the butter has melted, add the onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is well browned, about 20 minutes.
Add the sorrel leaves, potatoes and chicken broth. If the broth does not cover the contents, add a little water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and cook until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
When the potatoes are done, transfer half the mixture to a blender or food processor (the blender will give a smoother result). Process carefully until the mixture is pureed and smooth. Repeat with remaining soup. Return the soup to the saucepan over low heat.
Temper the egg by whisking it with about ¼ cup of soup, then pour the egg mixture into the soup pan. Cook, whisking constantly, until the soup thickens, about 5 minutes. Do not boil.
If serving hot, garnish each portion with a dollop of sour cream or thick yogurt.
If serving cold, cover the soup tightly and refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving. Garnish with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt and a couple of tablespoons of finely chopped cucumber and radish.
Robin Mather is a senior associate editor at MOTHER EARTH NEWS and the author of The Feast Nearby, a collection of essays and recipes from her year of eating locally on $40 a week. In her spare time, she is a hand-spinner, knitter, weaver, homebrewer, cheese maker and avid cook who cures her own bacon. Find her on Twitter, Facebook or Google+.
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