Saturday, 16 June 2012

Ukrainian Schavel' - Wild Sorrel Soup (Green Borsch?)

Schavel from my garden in Calgary
My schavel' is growing so quickly in my garden this year - it must be because of all the lovely spring weather Calgary has been having.  Such lush and healthy green!  Time to make soup!  It always makes a summer supper better to have fresh garden soup as the first course.  Will another year pass before I actually enjoy this treat?  I think not. 
A little basket and a small knife, and out to cut the common garden sorrel - schavel'.  I am not sure which of the technical names to use, but there are several wild sorrel - schavel' species growing in North America too.  I'll need a fair bit - it has to cut down to about 8 cups chopped.  

I make a great green borsch in the springtime, use up all the sorrel - schavel' on the garden.  It is a green spinach-like garden lettuce.  Tastes lemony and has a good tang. As you might expect from a vegetable this tart, any recipe using schavel' or sorrel will use cream or milk to temper the tang. With the cream or milk, the soup becomes such a bright, sparkling, green borsch - the spring borsch to wake all those digestive enzymes. 

Some articles on line call it Wild French Sorrel.  Puzzles me, why French?  Gotta think back in history, way back to Anna Yaroslavna - she was the daughter of  Yaroslav the Wise - Kniaz of Rus' way back a thousand years ago.  At the time of Kievan Rus', the Rurik Dynasty had impressive ties with the royal houses of Western Europe.  All the royal families of Europe wanted to foster familial ties with Kievan Rus'.  So, a King of France was married to Anna Yaroslavna - the daughter of the ruler of Kievan Rus'.  She, and her entire retinue went across the European continent and brought many treasures from Ukraine.  She became Queen of France!  Until recent times, the Bible she brought - written in Old Slavonic - was the Bible used for the official oath taking of Kings, and Presidents.  Not sure whether that is still the case, but an interesting fact.

In any case, whether Anna Yaroslavna brought Schavel' to France, - or whether Schavel' is a French food brought to Ukraine - it has been in the recipe box for about a thousand years.  Hope you enjoy!!

You will need a fair bit of sorrel - schavel' to make this recipe, it cooks down quickly.  You can purchase it at some supermarkets, sometimes at the farmer's market in the spring, but the best way to assure you have some in the spring is to have some in your own garden.  All you need is one or two plants stuck somewhere in the corner of the garden and it will produce for years.  You can plant it from seed, but I got the plants from a Ukrainian woman from church.  Thanks Pani O. ).

Nadia’s Hot Sorrel Soup  - Sorrel Soup (Schavel’)
Yield: Makes about 8 cups
1 cup finely chopped white and pale green part of green onions, washed well
½ cup finely chopped onion
2 Tbsp. butter
1 pound boiling potatoes (peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces)
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups milk
½ pound fresh sorrel  - stems discarded and leaves rinsed, spun dry, and shredded course (about 8 cups)
1/2 cup cream
¼ cup snipped fresh chives or to taste, plus, if desired, additional for garnish.
In a large saucepan cook the green onion and the onion with salt and pepper to taste in the butter over moderately low heat, stirring, until the vegetables are softened, add the potatoes, broth, and simmer the mixture covered for 10 – 15 minutes, or until potatoes are almost tender.  Stir in the milk, heat til scalded, then add sorrel and simmer for 1 minute.  Puree the mixture in a blender in batches, transferring it as it is purred to a bowl, and let it cool. (I do not puree the soup, because the sorrel pieces floating in the soup are nice.)  Stir in the cream, chives and salt and pepper to taste.  I like the soup served hot, but you can chill it, covered, for at least 4 hours or overnight and serve it sprinkled with additional chives.

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