Zupa Szczawiowa, or ZOO-pah shchtah-vee-YOH-vah. Don’t worry if you can’t pronounce it. I’m still just starting to wrap my head (and tongue) around the Polish language myself, and I’m sure a native speaker would get a good laugh out of the way I say it.
This kind of soup appears in countless forms in many countries around the world, but the main ingredients are always the same: an abundance of greens, wild or otherwise, that can be easily found where you live. From there the variations are many.
The version I offer below is quite unique to the Sonoma and Mendocino Coasts that I’ve had the pleasure of calling home for almost five years now. Of course, you shouldn’t run out and start randomly harvesting wild plants unless you really know what you’re doing (see my disclaimer before you get any ideas), but you’ll get a remarkable bowl full of terroir if you do.
You should feel free to work with what you’re able to find, but the recommendations I make should be easily forageable in our areas right about now. They’re not listed in the version I’ve concocted here, but stinging nettles and young fir tips would be amazingly delicious additions.
If gathering wild ingredients isn’t your thing, fear not! A trip to one or both of Surf Market or Gualala Super could net you some tasty ingredients to get you started. I can personally vouch that store bought sorrel alongside other greens and veggies like spinach, celery leaves, parsley, peas (fresh or frozen), or even asparagus will land you a competent set of bowls of soup for your table.
Wild Sorrel and Spring Greens Soup
PREP TIME: 10 MINUTES ● COOK TIME: 30 MINUTES ● SERVES 8
for the radishes
4 bunches of radishes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black peppercorns
for the soup
7 ounces Sheep Sorrel, coarsely chopped
4 ounces Miner’s Lettuce, coarsely chopped
3 ounces Wild Radish leaves, coarsely chopped
½ ounce Mugwort leaves, coarsely chopped
½ ounce Tri-Cornered Leeks, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
2 quarts water or vegetable broth
4 tablespoons flour or potato starch
Oven roasted radishes
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Maldon Finishing Salt
Freshly ground black peppercorns
Yogurt, sour cream or vegan alternative
Wine: Sauvignon Blanc
Wine: Dry Riesling
Cocktail: Gin/Vodka Martini
to make the radishes
- Pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees.
- Wash your radishes and remove any leafy greens from the bunches. Reserve the greens for another use, or add them to the greens for the soup if desired.
- Place your cleaned radishes into an ovenproof dish and coat with the olive oil, salt and black pepper.
- Roast in the oven for 15 minutes or until the radishes are cooked to your liking.
- Move along and start your soup.
to make the soup
- If you have not already done so, thoroughly clean and coarsely chop all of your greens.
- Place a skillet large enough to accommodate all of your chopped greens on a burner over medium heat. Once hot, add in the two tablespoons of butter or olive oil and allow the fat to heat up.
- Throw all of your chopped greens into the skillet. Stir constantly until they are covered with the butter or oil and until they begin to wilt. Remove from heat.
- Place a large soup pot on another burner and pour in your water or broth. Add in your sautéed greens and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to medium. Using an immersion blender, create a purée from the sautéed greens and water/broth.
- Add in the flour or potato starch and raise the heat on the pan to high. Stirring constantly, bring the mixture to a boil for another five minutes.
- Remove from heat and start to plate the dish.
- Drop a dollop of yogurt or sour cream into the center of each bowl and surround it with a generous helping of the oven roasted radishes.
- Pour one cup of the soup into each bowl, then garnish with a glug of extra virgin olive oil, finishing salts, black pepper and a handful of edible flowers.
- Serve and enjoy immediately.
To make a more rustic and filling version, skip blending the ingredients and add in peeled, chopped and cooked potatoes, parsnips, celeriac and/or chopped onions. Sliced toasts pan fried in olive oil are also absolutely smashing to serve alongside a bowl or two.