Polish Sorrel Soup with Boiled Egg

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 😋).

A bunch of fresh sorrel leaves on a white wooden table/surface.

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.

Smacznego!

Szczawiowa: Polish Sorrel Soup with Boiled Egg

Szczawiowa: Polish Sorrel Soup with Boiled Egg

Yield: 4
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Additional Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Also known as: Zupa Szczawiowa, Barszcz Szczawiowy, Sorrel Borscht or Green Borscht. This sorrel soup is one of the first introductions to summer. Tangy sorrel gives this soup a refreshing 'pizazz'. Simply yum!

Ingredients

Soup

  • 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%)

Garnish

  • 4 medium eggs
  • 2 tsp of lemon zest (cut in strips)
  • fresh thyme (optional)

Instructions

  1. Start warming up the chicken stock (we will need it soon).
  2. Wash all the leaves (both sorrel and nettle), dry them and then chop roughly.
  3. Peel the onion and dice it finely.
  4. In a pan, heat the butter and sauté the onion for a little while. Add in the leaves.
  5. Salt lightly, mix together with a spatula and stew under cover for around 3-5 minutes.
  6. Pour the hot chicken stock in and cook for 10 minutes.
  7. 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.
  8. Salt lightly, add the lemon juice, salt and sugar.
  9. Add sour cream and heat the soup to the desired temperature.
  10. Serve with boiled egg (halved), fresh thyme and thin strips of zest.

Notes

  • 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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Kasia Kronenberger Polish food blogger
Cześć, I’m Kasia.

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