From the book, Honey from a Weed
Wood sorrel, a small trefoil: this 'of all Sorrel sauces is the best,' wrote John Gerard. These fragile leaves and stems were those originally used by the French in their Julienne soup, according to Auguste Kettner. Wood sorrel is less acid than field sorrel. It appears in the soup as little 'threads,' these being the stalks, the trefoil leaves having dissolved. They are the origin of the fact that a Julienne soup should contain little vegetable slithers finely cut and hence of the phrase en julienne. Gerard's sauce was sorrel 'stamped' (pounded) raw to which was added sugar and vinegar, a sauce for roast meat. In his day a polished brass cannon ball was sometimes used as pestle.
Field sorrel is well worth growing in the garden when woods and fields are far away. In the Salento three kinds of field sorrel, all forms of R scutatus, grow among the stones piled on the margins of the fields; one picks them in November at the same time as field agarics, in autumn and again in spring.
Uses of both include, besides sorrel soup:
- as a sauce, chopped and melted in butter over a gentle heat, stirring, for fish;
- as a stuffing for fish, chopped and mixed with breadcrumbs, egg yolks and butter;
- as a last minute addition to a wild spinach soup, just before passing it through the mouli;
- simmered in butter and used as a dressing for steamed potatoes.