It’s time to make a spring tonic soup since the ice is out at Joe’s Pond!
Ah, April. Just when we thought it was safe to ditch the boots and winter coats, just as the daffodils delight with their beautiful spring show, we had a spring snow storm that left thousands without power.
The ice is out at Joe’s Pond!
But the good news is that the exact same day, the ice went out on Joe’s Pond in West Danville, the date many Vermonters record as the official start of spring. Wagers are made all year on the exact date and time. A large block is placed on the ice and a clock is attached. When the block breaks through the melted ice, the time is recorded and it is officially spring; this year April 19, 4:51 a.m. while a blizzard swarmed around the state!
Tomorrow, it will all be gone with the full sun and warm temperatures predicted. We call it poor man’s fertilizer, as once it melts everything will be greener and the first leaves will appear.
Lots of things are sprouting now, and signs of spring are everywhere. My chives are flourishing! The man who sells sweet spring-dug parsnips has assumed his annual perch at the side of the road, and fiddleheads and ramps will not be far behind.
Green leaves please
A local farm grew beautiful garden sorrel this year, a time when we crave anything leafy and not a root! I bought two small bunches and knew they would end up in a spring soup along with those parsnips.
When I was growing up, we children loved to chew on the wild sheep sorrel we called “sour grass.” It was quite tart and sour, but we loved it. Mom sometimes added it to soups, a vibrant and almost lemony flavor.
Let’s lighten this up a little
Traditional French sorrel soup is made with onions or leeks, chicken stock, and is enriched with both egg yolks and heavy cream. Lightening it up to reduce the saturated fat and make it heart healthy meant just a few swaps. I used a tasty vegan butter, coconut milk rather than the heavy cream and omitted the egg yolks, adding a potato for body instead. I also used my homemade vegetable stock from all the Easter dinner trimmings.
The sorrel I got at the farm was on the mild side, so I tossed in the zest and juice of a lemon as well to enhance the sour element. The sweet parsnip balanced it all out.
Not quite the green we crave
Even with the changes I made, it is still a hearty and satisfying soup. What it is not is very pretty. The second the sorrel hits the heat, it fades to olive drab. So a sprinkle of green chives and a few edible flowers will help with the visual.
She might not win the beauty contest, but will delight in the flavor competition!
Spring Sorrel and Parsnip Soup
- 2 tbsp. butter or vegan butter
- 1 large leek, small dice
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 spring-dug parsnips, small dice
- 1 russet potato, small dice
- 1 quart vegetable broth
- 1 can of coconut milk, regular or light
- 10 ounces sorrel, chopped up
- 2 tbsp. snipped chives
- Zest and juice of one lemon
Melt butter over medium high heat in a stock pot. When bubbly, add the leek and garlic and sauté until the leek is tender but not browned.
Add the parsnips, potato, and vegetable broth, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook until vegetables are tender.
Using an immersion blender, or regular blender in batches, purée the the soup to whatever consistency you like from lumpy to very smooth.
Add the coconut milk and warm, then toss in the sorrel just until it softens, followed by the chives.
Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice and zest, taste for seasoning, and serve up, garnishing with a few more chives and some edible flowers if you like. Great served with crunchy croutons or a nice slice of baguette.
From: Two Tramps in Mud Time
The sun was warm but the wind was chill.
You know how it is with an April day
When the sun is out and the wind is still,
You’re one month on in the middle of May.
But if you so much as dare to speak,
A cloud comes over the sunlit arch,
A wind comes off a frozen peak,
And you’re two months back in the middle of March.
~ Robert Frost
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51 Comments Add yours
I love the soup, love the poem and your delightful musing!
Thank you so much! It’s all good.
You are very welcome!
Dorothy, this was such fun to read. I don’t believe I have ever eaten sorrel. I will have to look for it at the farmer’s market.
Now you will see it everywhere Bernie!
I am just sitting here smiling! Love the soup story, and how you make it a feast for the eyes as well as the tummy. It just looks like a spring day: the slight haze of ‘can’t make up its mind of cloudy or clear’ with a little winter left over green and the new colors of spring. Never heard the Frost poem before, but it definitely cemented the smile. Big high five to you for this one!
PS: The ice went out on Joe’s Pond sounds like a poem begging to be written!
It does! I’ll have to put my thinking cap on…
Thank you! Spring in Vermont is always a grab bag of bitter and sweet! The soup looks ok once it is all dolled up!
It looks like potato soup should look. 🙂
You can definitely taste the potato, but in my book that is never a bad thing!
Lovely spring time soup
Thank you Jovina, it certainly satisfied the spring greens craving!
The color of many green soups is far from appetizing, but the flavor always compensates for it.
Thanks for an uplifting post, and the beautiful poem. 🙂
Thanks Ronit! Yes, a perfect soup to eat with the eyes closed, well, just to savor it better!
lol Good idea! 🙂
What a beautiful spring soup! The flowers are a perfect touch.
Thank you Madalaine! It pretties up this humble little offering!
Hey, I’ve always loved what you call “olive drab!” It is a nice soothing color without the blare of reds or purples! But it certainly looks delicious with the flowers, too.
I’m so glad you enjoy that color! You won’t even have to decorate it with flowers to enjoy from the first viewing!
I’ve never eaten sorrel to my knowledge. Something new to look into.
Your best bet is to look at farmers markets and local co-ops at this time of year and sometimes in the fall.
Love the poem – true here in Canada – our scenery yesterday was much the same.
The poem always holds true in the North country! And today, it will be sunny and in the 50s!
This is perfect Dorothy! Although we are heading into our cold season here, the parsnips and sorrel are in plentiful supply. I love sorrel in soups for that lemony hit. Joe’s ice is out is very amusing. I can only wonder, living in a country where ponds don’t freeze (although the chooks and dog water buckets do!). Sounds like a healthy way to herald in the spring! I hope you see lots of fresh green leaves poking through after this latest blizzard. Nothing like seeing those first signs of warmer weather.
By mid-afternoon the sun was out and everything looked beautifully green! The leaves are unfurling on the lilacs, the daffodils were none the worse for wear, and my peas and lettuce are perfectly happy. Poor man’s fertilizer!
This soup sounds just the business! On another note, however, I am one of those who think that cream is actually very very healthy (in proper doses of course, as it’s calorie-rich too) – have a look: https://www.getatoz.com/content/10-health-benefits-of-cream/2503
One of the things I personally don’t care for with using heavy cream in a soup is that the fat can dull the other flavors. The most rich I would use in a creamed soup would be half-and-half or light cream.
Sorrel is not something I have cooked with it looks and sounds like a delicious soup..I love how the start of spring is measured even though there was snow around a lovely post Dorothy 🙂 x
Thank you Carol! Spring comes in dribs and drabs, and we take the delights where we find them!
I have never tried sorrel but if it’s like a sour grass I would like it…I like everything sour ☺️ For me it’s a pretty soup 😋
Keep tight! Spring is coming 😉🌸
In the 50s today with sunny skies. Everything is green and smells clean and refreshed!
Sorrel sounds interesting. I’m glad to see potatoes for a creamy texture. And the flowers, well….they go perfectly as a garnish. Thanks for the poem. I cherish the memories of visiting the home of Robert Frost when I visited New Hampshire. 🌟✨💫
I love using a potato as a thickener, well, you know how I feel about potatoes of all sorts! You can taste the mild potato flavor here, but it is just a hint.
It seems like every year there is at least one day when this poem comes to mind!
Oh the soup is gorgeous! I admire the knack you have for making things healthier, and this soup sounds wonderful…we don’t often have access to ramps and some of the other seasonal things you have in New England, but I will gladly take the warmer climate over vegetables any time! Your snowstorm was beautiful, hopefully that’s the last until next winter…loved the story about the ice on Joe’s pond!
Thank you so much Jenna! With a family of allergies and special dietary requirements, I have learned to swap things out as needed, and I always try to keep the flavor and the feeling of the original recipe if possible. This one, I actually like better than the original because the flavor of the vegetables is brighter.
Wherever you are, there are substitutions. Rather than the sorrel, you could use baby spinach or a mix of spinach and arugula for a little more peppery flavor.
Thanks for the suggestions and substitutes, much appreciated!
There is always something that needs to be avoided!
I’m trying to imagine what the combinaof parsnip and sorrel tastes like. I guess I will just have to try, if I can find the sorrel. May have to harvest it in the wild, because it is a rarity here at markets.
Put on your foraging shoes Stefan! The wild has more flavor, and is my favorite. The parsnips add a nice sweetness to balance the sour, but they are not aggressively present in this soup.
Amazing snow in mid-April. Beautiful and healthy soup!
It was pretty, but all gone already!
I didn’t know about sour grass. Now I do! Thanks for another great post here, Dorothy xx
Thanks Christy! It’s a delicious green/herb with vibrant flavor.
Olive drab? Why, I hardly noticed because I was distracted by those pretty green chives and, of course, your decoration with edible flowers. 😁
I completely love that your locals have marked their own official start to spring with the ice on Joe’s pond. That is awesome! I hope the local kids hang onto that.
I know Terrie! This has grown over the years, with people from around the country making their bets!
I don’t mind the olive drab color, but I do like the looks of edible spring flowers on just about everything!
I hope the power wasn’t out too long. It’s times like that that we appreciate the modern conveniences. I know they always say we eat with our eyes, not me! I don’t care if it’s not picture perfect as long as it’s delicious. You are so lucky to have so many places to buy fresh produce.
I know how lucky I am Diane, all year long I can get local produce, although just about now, I’m kind of tired of rutabagas! Over the years, we talked to guests from around the country, and were often amazed that some of the folks who live in what we call “the bread basket” of the world, had trouble finding any local produce! Industrial food production needs to be rethought on so many levels.
I can’t wait to try this soup. My grandmother was from Russia and came here in the early 1900s. She made a soup using sorrel that we loved, but I never found sorrel here until recently my coop starting planting it. Thanks for this great looking recipe.
What a lovely memory attached to the sorrel! So glad you can find it at your coop now, it was rare for quite a while around here too, except the wild of course!