Saturday, January 17, 2009

Fancy a little touch of spring?

First, I'd like to apologize for the lack of posts; I promised myself to write one entry per week, but so far it didn't work. I was very busy at work, then I went to Spain and the vision of wonderful Spanish food limited my culinary horizon :) But now I'm back with a fresh spring soup I made last week and I hope you'll enjoy it.

Usually the winter weather in Poland is oscillating between lots of snow and a complete lack of it, and the temperature is between +5 and -15 Celsius degrees. Last week it was -20 in my city. There were spots of dirty snow around, but generally the world was gray and sad with no sun and no hope. I went shopping and all the fresh veggies were so expensive it was hard to believe somebody buys it at this price; I went for canned tomatoes, frozen peas and then I saw a jar of salted sorrel.

(If you're curious, it took me so long to write the post cause I couldn't find the name of that herb :P )

As wikipedia can tell you, sorrel is a tiny herb that grows in the garden (rather grows itself than is cultivated), or in meadows, rather in places that are shadowy and have a lot of water. It looks kinda like spinach, but the taste is completely different: sorrel is sour, a bit lemony, with a slight taste of chives and something else, maybe spinach too.

Sorrel is commonly used in Poland to make a spring, green, refreshing soup and actually just for that; I don't think I've ever seen it in salads or used as a stuffing. The original recipe uses 1 egg per portion, to boil it hard, cut in half and put the peeled halves in the soup where they turn green and look suspicious. We just won't use it and that's all.

We're gonna need a big handful of fresh sorrel for 4 portions of soup; if you can't find it fresh or frozen, look for pureed sorrel in a jar - you'll need 1 overfilled cup of it. If you have fresh sorrel, sautée the leaves on sunflower oil (the basic oil for polish kitchen) - it will reduce visibly - and then mash/blend it to a puree

Sorrel soup

200 ml (1 overfilled cup) of sorrel puree
1,5 l (8 cups) of vegetable stock
1 garlic clove
some onion if you like it
3 potatoes if you like the potatoes
100 g (1/4 pound) of regular firm natural tofu (the more solid your tofu is, the better for the aesthetic of your soup)
salt & pepper % some chopped fresh dill if you like it
some egg salt for the tofu

maybe some soy cream (I don't like it that way, maybe you will)

If you're using the potatoes first you have to take care of them: peel, cut in cubes and boil them, then leave apart.

Chop and sautée the onion and the garlic on sunflower oil, then pour in the stock and make it boil. Add sorrel puree and stir well; make it boil, then reduce the heat to minimum, cover leaving some uncovered space for the steam and let it simmer for half an hour.

Break the tofu in chunks and dry it well. Boil some water and pour the tofu chunks in the boiling water; wait till tofu starts to emerge on the surface, then reduce the heat and let it boil for 2-3 minutes. Then take it off the heat, get rid of the water and sprinkle the chunks while hot and steaming with egg salt if you use it.

Now get back to the soup; add the salt and pepper and taste it; if the soup doesn't taste like water or broth and you can clearly distinguish the sorrel taste - which means sour - the soup is ready.

Portion the soup and add tofu chink and potatoes (if using) to each bowl; sprinkle with fresh dill and decorate with soy creamer if you fancy so.

Here you can see my version, with tofu chunks only:

It wasn't as good as made with fresh herb, but still gave me a little hope in this wintery, people-unfriendly weather.