During spring and early summer I cook this kind of soup with Sorrel and Nettle, which are very popular in Eastern Europe. Sorrel has a natural sourness and Nettle a ton of vitamins. Blanched, nettles will keep their emerald loveliness even after a good 15 minutes of cooking, which makes any dish visually stunning. Be sure to wear gloves when removing the nettle leaves from the stems. You will need a fair bit of sorrel to make this recipe, as it cooks down into a puree very fast. The delicious spring onions and marinated mushroom relish you can serve also with grilled fish, chicken or steak. —Kukla
For the soup
• 1 tablespoon butter
• 2 bunches baby leeks, if using regular leeks, white part only
• 4 garlic cloves
• 4 shallots, peeled and sliced
• 2 sprigs thyme
• 2 bay leaves
• 4 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced
• 1 1/2 quarts chicken stock
• 2 bunches sorrel leaves
• 1 cup nettle leaves, blanched and chopped
• Salt and pepper to taste
• Sour Cream or Crème Fraîche to finish (optional)
For the Relish
• 1 medium shallot, finely diced
• 4 spring onions, thinly sliced
• 3/4 cup marinated Prickly or any small mushrooms
Melt the butter in a medium soup pot over a medium heat. Sweat the leeks, garlic, shallots and herbs until translucent. Add the potatoes and cook for a few minutes. Pour in the chicken stock and reduce the heat to a simmer for about half an hour.
Transfer to a blender and purée until smooth. Add the sorrel and nettle; then pulse the blender a few more times to mix together. Pass the mixture through a fine chinos or food mill. Season with salt and pepper to taste. You may add a dollop of Sour Cream or Crème Fraîche to finish, if desired. Serve immediately.
For the Relish
Place shallot and spring onions in a bowl of ice water; soak 20 minutes. Drain shallot and spring onions, squeezing in paper towels to remove as much liquid as possible; transfer to a bowl. Add sugar, lemon juice, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Mix in the mushrooms and spoon on the top of the soup as much as you desire. Enjoy!