Several weeks ago, I got to know a new customer. As she learned of my love for eating weeds, she began to tell me about schav soup, a soup her grandmother taught her to make, and she showed me the weeds used to make the soup. It was not a weed I was familiar with growing up, so it took me a while to learn it: Finally I am now recognizing the weed everywhere. (The photo shows a patch of sorrel I recently discovered in a neglected and formerly mulched flower bed).
French Sorrel is the plant used to make schav soup.It will grow up to 18 inches tall, and it will produce flowers. However, in your lawn areas, it will barely grow tall enough to be recognizable especially when mixed in with other broadleaf weeds. To find it in your lawn, look in dry soil areas under spruce trees or along yew hedge rows. It is a paler green than grass, and when you find a full specimen, it has a “shield” shape, essentially a triangle with two smaller triangles attached at the base. Taste it: It has a delicious sweet-and-sour flavor due to its oxalic acid content.
Other edible relatives of this “weed” include medicinal rhubarb, Japanese knotweed and broad-leaf sorrel. Since it has a high vitamin C content, this plant was used to cure scurvy in the absence of fresh fruits and vegetables.
My customer surprised me by making me the soup, and she gave me the following recipe to share with my readers:
6 cups shav (french sorrel) leaves
8 cups water
2 large onions, chopped and caramelized
1 stick Fleishman’s margarine
3 cups heavy whipping cream
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
5 pounds potatoes
1 pound bacon, prepared and chopped into crumbles
In large soup pot:
Add water and schav leaves that have been cleaned and chopped. Bring to a boil. Let simmer on low heat.
Melt margarine and add onions. Fry until golden to brown (make carmelized). Add to large soup pot.
In small pot:
Add salt and heavy whipping cream that is mixed until salt is thoroughly combined. While mixing, slowly add 3 to 4 ladles of schav broth. Mix well. Then add the cream mixture into the large soup pot. Note: If you use this method to cream your soups, they will never curdle.
In medium to large pot:
Boil potatoes until soft in center. Drain and cool. Peel and discard the potato skins. Cut potatoes into bite-sized pieces. Add to large soup pot.
Serve with cumbled bacon sprinkled on top.
Because of our discussion and her memories, my customer actually planted some French sorrel in pots at her house. Because I enjoyed the soup, I understand why, and I have been looking for six cups of schav leaves ever since.
Reach me at email@example.com.
Joshua Arp is an ISA-certified municipal specialist, Clarks Summit’s municipal arborist and an operator of an organic lawn and landscape maintenance business.