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Sorrel Soup with Torn Croutons

Sorrel has a sharp, acidic flavor, so it should come as no surprise that its name derives from the archaic French sur, meaning "sour." The leaves resemble those of spinach and arugula and, like the latter, are often classified as herbs. The plant thrives in the coolness of early spring, when its young leaves have their most delicate taste and tender texture.

Ingredients:

For the torn croutons:

  • 1/4 lb. day-old country-style sourdough bread,
      crusts removed
  • 3 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

For the soup:

  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 2 yellow onions, chopped
  • 9 oz. young, tender sorrel leaves, stems
      removed
  • 1 1/4 lb. red new potatoes, peeled and thinly
      sliced
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock, or
      canned broth
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Directions:

To make the croutons, preheat an oven to 400°F. Tear the bread into 1/2-inch pieces and place on a baking sheet. Drizzle the butter over the bread, season with salt and pepper and toss to coat evenly. Bake until golden and crisp, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Store in an airtight container at room temperature until ready to use. (The croutons can be made up to 1 day in advance.)

To make the soup, in a soup pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onions and sauté, stirring, until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the sorrel and cook, stirring, until wilted, about 2 minutes. Increase the heat to high, add the potatoes, stock and water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until the potatoes are soft, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.

Using a blender and working in batches, puree the soup on high speed until smooth, 3 to 4 minutes per batch. Strain the puree through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean saucepan. Stir in the cream, mixing well. Season with salt and pepper.

Place the saucepan over medium heat and reheat the soup to serving temperature. Ladle into warmed bowls, garnish with the croutons and serve immediately. Serves 6.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Seasonal Celebration Series, Spring, by Joanne Weir (Time-Life Books, 1997).