Chilled Pea and Sorrel Soup

by Maja Lukic


How pretty are those violet radish micro greens? Sometimes I feel spoiled living so close to a fantastic farmers market. I'm on a mission to purchase at least one new item every week and find a creative way to use it. On a recent trip to the market, as I was picking out the radish micro greens pictured throughout, a display of baby sorrel caught my attention. 

Sorrel is a beautiful perennial herb. It has a pronounced tart and oxalic flavor and, according to Deborah Madison, sorrel belongs in the same family as rhubarb and buckwheat, which is pretty amazing. It's a lovely green plant with delicately-shaped, pointed leaves. 

With the focus on spring's glossier vegetables like asparagus or cult favorites like ramps, I think poor sorrel gets overlooked. To be fair, it's not as accessible as other greens. Grocery stores sell small bunches of sorrel in plastic containers but for a larger quantity, you have to visit a farmers market. And sorrel can be fairly expensive. Even so, I think it's underutilized. When I stepped up to pay for my bag of greens at the market, the girl behind the cash register squinted at the sorrel and said: "Are you making a soup? I'm always asking people about what they do with sorrel." What do people do with sorrel? That weekend, I was planning on making this soup but I've since discovered some other applications. 

There are interesting recipes out there for yoghurt or cream-based sorrel sauces but I was determined to find/create vegan recipes. And, basically, sorrel, with its incredible tangy flavor, applies in any dish where you might otherwise add a burst of lemon juice -- think of seafood, grains, potatoes, lentils, sauces, vinaigrettes, pastas, pestos, or soups. Of course, I love lemons and tart flavors so much that I often add lemon juice to sorrel dishes anyway. 

It's beautiful, crunchy, bright green, and astringent in its raw form. In its cooked form, that vibrant shade quickly bleeds into a drab army green as soon as the leaves and the plant generally assumes a slimy texture. I was shocked the first time I prepared this soup! But its beautiful tart flavor remains strong even when cooked and once you blend the soup, the dish looks fine. Because it's still early in the season, I found baby sorrel and the stems were not an issue. But as the season progresses and the sorrel matures, you will want to remove the thick stems of the leaves before you use it. If you'd like to learn more, Food52 has a great little article on sorrel. 

This is intended to be served as a chilled soup but I've heated it gently on cooler evenings and it's nice like that, too. The sorrel lightens the sweet, starchy peas, and for added interest, I like to top it off with a citrusy, creamy coconut cream and some purple radish micro greens, which have a mild spicy flavor. If you can't find radish micro greens, use sliced radishes or some spicy arugula for a similar bite. In the end, the soup has a delicate balance of cooling and spicy, sweet and tangy, and crunchy and creamy elements. 

The lemon-coconut cream is entirely optional but I love how it looks in the soup and once swirled in, it lends the soup a lovely creamy quality -- much like actual sour cream. Fair warning, though: although I really like it in this soup, it does have a subtle sweetness and a trace of coconut flavor. If you don't love the coconut, omit the cream and substitute a plain dairy product or enjoy the soup on its own. 

Chilled Pea and Sorrel Soup with Lemon-Coconut Cream (v/gf)

Serves 6

Soup

1 tbsp avocado oil

3-4 shallots, chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 cup white wine (I like a nice Albariño )

2 lbs. peas (fresh or frozen)

2 cups baby sorrel 

2 cups water

1 tsp sea salt

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Lemon-Coconut Cream

1 can full-fat coconut milk, chilled in the fridge overnight

1 lemon

sea salt

garnish: purple radish micro greens (or sliced radishes), olive oil

Wash the sorrel and if the plant is mature or the stems look tough and stringy, remove the stems.

Heat the avocado oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Sauté the shallots until soft, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and white wine and cook for a few more minutes until the wine reduces by half. 

Add the peas, sorrel, and about 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil and cook until the sorrel wilts and the peas are just cooked through (for fresh peas) or warmed through (for frozen peas). Do not overcook. Take the soup off the heat and allow it to cool. If it looks too watery, remove some of the excess liquid. Blend the soup with 2 tablespoons of olive oil until creamy. Return to the soup pot, season with a teaspoon of sea salt, and set aside. At this point, you can chill the soup for a few hours to serve later or you can serve right away at room temperature. 

To prepare the coconut cream, turn the can upside down and open it. The coconut fat will be at the bottom of the can and the liquid will be at the top. Carefully pour out the liquid but reserve it. Scoop the coconut fat out into a separate bowl and add the zest and juice of a lemon. Stir until creamy, adding a few tablespoons of the reserved coconut liquid if the cream seems too stiff. Add sea salt to taste. 

To serve the soup, ladle into bowls and swirl a tablespoon of coconut cream into each bowl. Top with a small handful of radish micro greens and a few more drops of olive oil, if desired. 

The soup can be stored in the fridge for up to three days. Serve chilled or gently heated. 

Note: You can either use fresh or frozen peas but frozen peas are sweeter, in my opinion. To preserve the bright color, don't overcook the peas -- take the soup off the heat as soon as the peas are cooked (for fresh peas) or defrosted (for frozen peas). Be sure to use chilled coconut milk. Note that when the coconut cream is chilled again, it will solidify and adopt a texture similar to firm cream cheese. 


Lemon Rosemary White Bean Hummus

by Maja Lukic


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For me, personally, fall and winter are all about making use of pantry items such as dried beans. I am a huge fan of dried beans, actually, and always have a few varieties of beans and other dried provisions on hand. 

This recipe was born out of a desire to actually use up the massive quantities of dried goods I've been hoarding in my kitchen cupboards lately. I live in New York but sometimes I act like I have real estate to spare, which is absolutely not the case. Cleaning out the cupboards/closets is always a winning move.

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I also got a little herb crazy over the summer and, ever since, I have been looking for ways to justify my manic expenses at garden and hardware stores back in July. Although my kitchen windowsill is lined with pots and pots of herbs that are now rapidly drying out, the rosemary and thyme have turned out to be remarkably resilient and, therefore, very useful in my culinary exploits. (I can definitely get behind a plant that manages to thrive even under the care of a busy and self-absorbed lawyer). And so, this hummus is quite the herbal situation. I mean, it is literally packed with an assortment of both fresh and dried herbs.

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This pretty, green hummus has become everything to me. With layers of herbal and citrus notes, the resultant flavor is complex and brighter than one would expect. And it's completely versatile - I've used it as a dip, in avocado sandwiches and collard wraps, and on baked potatoes, roasted cauliflower, and roasted fish. Its clean lemon flavor is welcome everywhere, basically. 

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Lemon Rosemary White Bean Hummus (v/gf)

Makes approx. 3 cups  

1 cup dried cannellini beans (or 2 cans)

1 dried bay leaf

2 tbsp tahini 

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1 large clove garlic, minced

1/2 cup flat leaf parsley 

1 sprig of rosemary, finely minced* 

1 tsp dried oregano

juice and zest of 1 lemon* 

1-4 tbsp water, as needed* 

sea salt, to taste

For dried beans: soak the beans for at least 8 hours or overnight. Drain and rinse well. Cover with a few inches of water in a large soup pot, add a bay leaf, and bring the beans to a boil. Simmer on low to medium heat, partly uncovered, for about 40 to 45 minutes or until the beans are tender. If not using right away, the beans can be stored in the fridge in their cooking liquid for a few days. Otherwise, drain the beans well. Optional move: reserve a little bit of the cooking liquid to process the beans below. 

For canned beans: just drain and rinse them well.   

Transfer the beans to a food processor and add the tahini, mustard, garlic, parsley, rosemary, oregano, and half of the lemon juice and zest. Process until creamy, scraping down the sides as needed. If the mixture is dry, add in the water (or reserved bean cooking liquid), 1 tablespoon at a time until you achieve a creamy texture. Taste for seasoning and add salt and the remaining lemon zest/juice, as needed. 

The hummus can be stored in the fridge for up to a week (cover with plastic wrap by placing the plastic directly on top of the surface of the hummus to prevent it from drying out) or stored in the freezer for up to one month. 

 

Notes:  If you have a very large or very juicy lemon, start with 1/2 of the lemon zest and juice and taste before adding the rest.

Rosemary is strong - a little goes a long way. 

I know that it seems counterintuitive but adding water instead of oil yields a creamier hummus. Basically, tahini + water will always result in creamy perfection.