The other day I was at a farmer's market in Watertown. I was just about ready to leave empty handed when I spotted a giant leafy bunch of sorrel. I had only seen it in small packages at Whole Foods but never had I seen it like this before. At $2 a bunch, I couldn't resist and before I even got to the car, I plucked a piece of the leaf off to steal a taste - and I haven't been the same since.
Okay, maybe that's a little dramatic but I have never been so blown away by the natural, raw flavors of a vegetable before. Sorrel is a sturdy, leafy green with a certain hardiness to it and once you start chewing, this surprisingly vibrant lemony flavor gets released. Before I could stop myself, I was so smitten with this new find, I was eating it like candy and couldn't wait to get it back to my kitchen to experiment.
I wanted to really showcase the sorrel and give it a dramatic role on my dinner plate; it just felt like that's what it deserved. I had planned to make a classic potato-leek soup anyway and thought this would be a welcome addition. Because of the sorrel's bright green hue, I opted to use purple potatoes instead - I just love the contrast of purple and green. I started by making the sorrel into a pesto with some garlic and olive oil but the results were too grassy for my liking. So I strained the pesto and was left with a beautifully flavorful smooth puree to drizzle over my soup. I had some leftover chicken on hand too so I neatly stacked it into the center of the bowl and then, for garnish, I crisped up purple potato peels in the oven.
The results of this dish were really something, if I do say so myself. The bright citrus flavors of the sorrel just cut through the rich potato base and the colors of this dish made it playful and artistic. Best yet? This was all pulled together in under an hour's time. Of course, regular russet potatoes work just fine here and if you can't find sorrel, fear not, a basil or cilantro would also work, just don't be shy with the lemon. But if by chance you can find the sorrel, I encourage you to try, it's totally worth it. (Quick Sorrel Tip: if you plan to use it, eat it raw and enjoy all of it's beautiful flavors. I found that when cooked, the flavors get muted.)
Purple Potato-Leek Soup with Sorrel Puree
- 3 purple potatoes, scrubbed, peeled and cubed, peels reserved
- 1 leek, white part only, cleaned well and sliced thin
- 2 TBS butter
- 1 cup cooked, shredded chicken
- Olive Oil for Drizzling
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Sorrel Puree (recipe follows)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Heat a medium-sized stock pot on medium heat. Drizzle olive oil into the pan and add the leeks and a generous pinch of salt. Heat until they soften and then add the potatoes and another generous pinch of salt. Add water to the pot, just until potatoes are covered and bring to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, reduce the heat to simmer and let the potato-leek mixture simmer until the potatoes are cooked through. Once the potatoes are cooked through, strain them and set aside to cool, being careful to reserve the cooking liquid. In a blender, puree the potatoes until smooth and then gradually add the liquid until the soup reaches a smooth and velvety state but still is relatively thick. (You may need to work in batches). Return the soup to the pot, add the butter and heat through, adjusting seasonings as necessary.
While the potatoes are cooking, lay the potato peels onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven until they are crispy. Remove from heat and set aside until ready for use.
Just before serving, reheat the chicken and set aside. In shallow bowls, ladle the soup into the bowls and stack the chicken into the center of the plate. Top with crispy potato skins and drizzle with sorrel puree. Serve immediately.
- 1/2 cup sorrel
- 1 clove garlic
- Olive oil
Salt to taste
In a blender, combine sorrel, garlic and just enough olive oil to get the blender going. Season to taste. Remove the mixture from the blender and run it through a fine mesh strainer. Discard the pulp and reserve the puree for the soup.
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