Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Dame Does Sorrel

2014 has arrived in a hurry, and with it some wonderful things, the most important being that I've finally gotten to use my kitchen again. I won't go into details - suffice to say that for a while, due to the situation in the apartment I rent with a few other housemates, I wasn't able to cook a lot, if at all. Now though, I can, and it has been an amazingly wonderful time of adjusting back to the joys of being able to create with food again.

One of the first things that I ended up making was this delicious, beautiful chicken soup from Karina's Kitchen. An entire recipe made enough to freeze, and have a good meal for at least three days. I couldn't find yellow squash - it's a bit of a hit-and-miss commodity here - so I substituted carrots instead. I also didn't have green chillies in a can, so I put in two small chipotle chillies from my freezer stash. It worked a treat!

A few days ago, I managed to pick up something I hadn't seen in a while in the shops: fresh sorrel. It's hard to find, and the last time I'd seen it was a few years ago, so I was excited to say the least. I snapped up two packs of it, bore it home in triumph, and spent the next day or so scratching my head as to what to do with it.

For the past month I've been doing a lot of writing in the noir genre - more specifically, pastiches in Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe universe. Wolfe is famous for weighing one seventh of a ton, for refusing to budge from his New York brownstone unless absolutely necessary, and also for the legendary meals created by his chef extraordinaire, Fritz Brenner. One of my prized possessions is a copy of The Nero Wolfe Cookbook, and one of the recipes in it is for Germiny A L'Oseille, or Sorrel Soup.

No prizes for guessing what I decided to make in the end.

There is, however, a Moral to today's soup-making adventure, namely: Don't puree 4 cups of hot soup in the blender at one go. The resulting mess takes a lot longer to clean up than the cooking itself. I now have sorrel in my hair, which may take as long to get out as it took wiping the kitchen counter clean.

The colour of the soup itself is pretty insipid, but the taste is fantastic. I made a few substitutions, such as non-dairy cream, using an entire egg instead of just the egg yolk, and omitting the sherry because I didn't have any on hand. It was still delicious, pretty easy to whip up, and I've a feeling I'll be making it again if I can find any more sorrel in the stores this week.

Germiny A L'Oseille
Adapted from The Nero Wolfe Cookbook

1/2 medium red onion, sliced
2 generous tsps butter
100g sorrel (more if you can find it, that's all I had)
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups chicken broth/stock (home made is best, but all I had was organic packet broth so I used that)
1 egg
Around 1/3 cup heavy cream or non-dairy cream substitute (I used a rice-based cream substitute)
Salt and white pepper to taste (I totally forgot about the pepper. It was still fantastic.)

Slice the onion and shred the sorrel. Melt the butter in a large heavy saucepan and cook the onions in it slowly for about 5 minutes. Do not allow them to brown. Add the sorrel, reserving some for garnish. Salt and cook, covered, for 5 minutes more. Add the chicken broth and when it comes to a boil, simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and puree in a blender. Season to taste. Keep the soup hot over a low flame.

In a mixing bowl combine the egg and cream / cream substitute. Beat with a whisk or fork, and slowly add in a cup of the hot soup, beating constantly. Gradually pour the mixture into the soup in the saucepan, beating with whisk or fork. Reheat for a minute or two, but do not allow soup to boil. Garnish with the leftover slivers of sorrel and serve hot.

Note: I added some leftover quinoa to the soup to give it a little bulk. It was surprisingly good!

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