PL: Zupa Szczawiowa, Barszcz Szczawiowy
When shopping for strawberries yesterday (they’re finally here!) I looked around the produce stall to see what’s new and in season.
There’s a great looking rhubarb – I made a quick mental note to came back for it soon – and… a beautiful voluminous bunches of fresh sorrel leaves.
There was no way I could leave them behind. I bought two “bouquets” without hesitation (or plan on what to do with them 😋).
I knew at the back of my mind that I have definitely tried sorrel in the past. Maybe as a soup in a school canteen? Or in a restaurant? It must have been a really long time ago, because I couldn’t recall its flavour.
The sorrel simply wasn’t an ingredient used in my family’s dinner repertoire. Being a city kid, I didn’t venture out to the fields much – so these spear-shaped leaves weren’t familiar to me.
All I remembered was that their flavour is on a controversial side. They’re one of those things that people either love or hate.
Looking For a Perfect Recipe
Back at home, I scanned my cookbook collection in search of an inspiration.
Having decided on brewing Szczawiowa – a Polish classic sorrel soup – I wanted to compare various recipes:
- Some of them are heavy on cream, others keep the soup clear.
- Many include additional leaves, such as spinach, nettle or sometimes kale.
- The texture differs as well: a number of formulas call for blending a soup into a cream, while the rest keeps the sorrel in its original form.
In the end, I’ve selected a classic recipe by Hanna Szymanderska – have a look at the bottom of the post for more details.
My Take On Szczawiowa
Being my usual rebellious-self, I altered the original method just a tiny-bit:
- Inspired by recipes from other books, I’ve added some extra nettle leaves. Spinach would work too!
- Szymanderska calls for blending the whole thing, but I’ve decided to leave around one-fifth aside and to return it to the soup later on. This idea proved to be a good one. The soup’s texture was more interesting and multidimensional.
How Does This Sorrel Soup Taste like?
According to my taste-buds, this Polish-style Szczawiowa is a quintessence of spring. It tastes fresh and tangy. I’m amazed that these innocent-looking, frilly leaves are in fact jam-packed with flavour!
Interesting fact: The oxalic acid present in sorrel makes the soup taste sour, but a touch of cream balances the flavours nicely.
If this green broth was thicker, I reckon it would make a great sauce or a pesto – perhaps for a fish dish? I’ll need to give it a try.
How To Serve It?
Literature mentions it can be served both hot and cold, but I would recommend the former. I didn’t enjoy it as much when it was chilled.
In Poland, the sorrel soup is traditionally served with:
- Sour cream: either mixed into the soup or as a dollop dropped in at the end. 12% cream should do the trick, but I’m sure you could replace it with a thicker natural yoghurt.
- Boiled egg (halved or quartered): a must! It compliments the soup beautifully.
- Mashed potatoes: totally optional. In some recipes, a portion of mash is added in the centre of the plate.
- Sausage: just like in case of żurek soup, a few slices of kiełbasa does wonders! Kiełbasa biała (the “white” sausage) works best.
Alternatively, you could try these garnishes (I shamelessly stole these ideas from menus of trendy restaurants):
- Fried Bacon Rashers: I love how it adds that extra crunch!
- Croutons: Again – adds some nice crispiness.
- Homemade baked potato chip: I’m definitely adding this next time!
- Lemon zest: Cut into thin strips, adds some visual appeal.
- Edible flowers: For decoration. I would go for something blue, a cornflower perhaps?
Sadly, the sorrel season is short, so enjoy it while it’s still around. I’m planning on freezing some (or perhaps storing it in a jar?) to use in the winder. I’ll let you know how it goes.
- 1 litre chicken stock
- 2 bunches (approx. 400g) fresh sorrel leaves
- 0.5 bunch (approx. 100g) fresh nettle leaves (or spinach)
- 1 onion
- 1.5 tbsp butter
- pinch of salt
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- pinch of black pepper
- pinch of sugar
- 100ml of sour cream (12%)
- 4 medium eggs
- 2 tsp of lemon zest (cut in strips)
- fresh thyme (optional)
- Start warming up the chicken stock (we will need it soon).
- Wash all the leaves (both sorrel and nettle), dry them and then chop roughly.
- Peel the onion and dice it finely.
- In a pan, heat the butter and sauté the onion for a little while. Add in the leaves.
- Salt lightly, mix together with a spatula and stew under cover for around 3-5 minutes.
- Pour the hot chicken stock in and cook for 10 minutes.
- Chill it down for a bit, then blend it with a blender and then press it through a strainer. I left a one-fifth of the leaves unblended for more texture. Return to the pan.
- Salt lightly, add the lemon juice, salt and sugar.
- Add sour cream and heat the soup to the desired temperature.
- Serve with boiled egg (halved), fresh thyme and thin strips of zest.
- Recipe adapted from "750 Tradycyjnych Polskich Potraw" cookbook by Hanna Szymanderska (page 37)
- The soup is sometimes served with an addition of mashed potatoes and/or white kiełbasa.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 248 Total Fat: 16g Saturated Fat: 7g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 7g Cholesterol: 196mg Sodium: 500mg Carbohydrates: 13g Fiber: 0g Sugar: 6g Protein: 13g
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