Sorrel Soup, French Style

4.88 from 32 votes
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French sorrel soup recipe in a bowl
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

One of the first things I did when I moved to California was plant sorrel in my backyard. It is my kind of veggie: Tart, tender, drought-resistant, indestructible. Ignore it and sorrel thrives. Stomp on it and it comes back stronger. And it’s green almost all year long.

Sorrel soup is a classic. It is a harbinger of spring all over Europe, and several versions of it exist from Scotland to France to Russia.

Sorrel, like many early-spring greens, is a tonic after so many months of eating roots and preserved meats. It is very high in Vitamin C and reasonably high in iron. It’s tang — I call it “lemonade in a leaf” — comes from oxalic acid, the same thing that make its cousin rhubarb taste the way it does.

Sorrel is exceptional paired with seafood or chicken, and I often make a simple sorrel sauce whenever I have some trout or salmon or pheasant around.

Everything about sorrel soup sounded wonderful, save one: For whatever reason, sorrel turns olive green almost the second it touches the heat. Sorrel looks like overcooked collard greens even before it’s fully wilted. And I have a thing about overcooked greens, although I am trying to get over it. I want my greens to shine like emeralds, not look like the side of an Army truck.

sorrel leaves in the garden
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

I stood in my yard, staring at my gigantic sorrel patch. Would another year pass without me making sorrel soup? I got out my scissors. No, I’d suck it up and deal with the drab.

You don’t have to garden to enjoy sorrel. I happen to grow the common garden sorrel that was developed in France centuries ago, but there are several wild sorrel species that live in North America.

Most common are the oxalis family, of which there are scores. Chief among this clan is creeping wood sorrel, Oxalis corniculata, which looks like shamrocks with little yellow flowers. It turns bronze in cold weather and often infiltrates your lawn. There is another sorrel that lives in the West Coast, Oxalis albicans. It too has shamrocks, only they’re larger and the yellow flowers are the color of saffron-and-cream. You see this sorrel a lot in the Bay Area.

In the woods you will find sheep sorrel, Rumex acetosella. It has tiny, arrow-shaped leaves and grows in a little rosette. Sheep sorrel can carpet the forest floor. My garden sorrel is a relative of this one.

Closeup of the sorrel soup recipe
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Since the French really pioneered the cultivation of sorrel, I decided to make my sorrel soup a French one. There are scores of recipes for this soup, but if you want to make a classic French dish you go to the classic French cookbook: Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. My version of this recipe differs from Julia’s only in that I used wild onions instead of regular onions, and I used more sorrel. Other than that, it is an homage to a master.

As you might expect from a vegetable whose chief attribute is tartness, this soup would be inedible without the cream and eggs to temper it. With them, however, it becomes a bright, smooth wake-up call from a long winter. All it needed for total balance was a good loaf of bread and a crisp white wine. Enjoy!

French sorrel soup recipe
4.88 from 32 votes

Sorrel Soup, French Style

You will need a fair bit of sorrel to make this recipe, as it cooks down into a puree alarmingly fast. You can buy sorrel at some fancy supermarkets, a lot of farmer's markets in the spring -- or you can garden your own or forage for it. (If you want to plant it in your garden, you can buy sorrel seed online.) If you can't find it, substitute watercress and use sour cream instead of regular cream.
Course: Main Course, Soup
Cuisine: French
Servings: 4 people
Author: Hank Shaw
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes


  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions, ramps or other wild onion
  • 4-6 cups of chopped sorrel, packed
  • Salt
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 quart chicken stock or vegetable stock
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup cream


  • Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the green onions or ramps and turn the heat to medium-low. Cover the pot and cook gently for 10 minutes.
  • While the onions are cooking, pour the stock into another pot and bring to a simmer.
  • Turn the heat up, add the sorrel leaves and a healthy pinch of salt to the pot with the onions and stir well. When the sorrel is mostly wilted, turn the heat back to medium-low, cover and cook 10 minutes. Stir occasionally. Mix in the flour and cook over medium heat for 3 minutes.
  • Whisk in the hot stock, stirring constantly. Bring this to a simmer.
  • To finish the soup, whisk together the egg yolks and cream. Temper the mixture by ladling a little soup into it with one hand, while you whisk the egg-cream mix with the other. Repeat this three times. (You are doing this to prevent the eggs from scrambling) Now start whisking the soup. Pour the hot egg-cream-soup mixture into the pot with the soup, whisking all the way. Add the final tablespoon of butter. Let this cook -- below a simmer -- for 5 minutes. Do not let it boil or the soup will break. Serve at once.


Serve this with bread and a nice white wine, or a floral beer like a Belgian.


Calories: 306kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Cholesterol: 169mg | Sodium: 92mg | Potassium: 270mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 2242IU | Vitamin C: 26mg | Calcium: 53mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe? Tag me today!Mention @huntgathercook or tag #hankshaw!

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About Hank Shaw

Hey there. Welcome to Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, the internet’s largest source of recipes and know-how for wild foods. I am a chef, author, and yes, hunter, angler, gardener, forager and cook. Follow me on Instagram and on Facebook.

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Recipe Rating


  1. Oh my! What a treat this was! I raved about this all week. Also the health benefits of sorrel are outstanding. Our taste buds were convinced we were enjoying a soup in a five star french restaurant. Oh we used shallots instead of onions.

  2. Excellent soup. We got a free packet of Sorrel seeds last year. Used them a bit in salads but they get eaten a lot by pests so not the best for us in salad. With being able to boil it up to kill off any residue from the pests its a better use of the sorrel. Already on our second pot, I think it will be a summer staple, use up a lot of the sorrel and keep it down with regular cuttings so the pests dont get a chance to establish like last year. Cheers.

  3. What a lovely site. My mother (new to the internet) managed to google Sorrel Soup and up you came. She found your writing so witty that she said she just had to ring me and share. And of course she is right. Great writing and neither of use can wait to try your recipe; we have a veggie patch entirely overrun by this delightful vegetable!

  4. Fabulous soup. I have tried sorrel soup with potatoes countless times and have never had a good result. This recipe is perfectly delicious! Thanks.

  5. Susan, yesterday at our community garden I was talking to a Polish lady who has a lovely row of sorrel. She told me that I could just take a knife and cut my clump of sorrel into pieces and spread them out to make a row like hers. Then I should just keep cutting the leaves off at ground level to keep them coming up nice and green for ages.

  6. My sorrel has not grown enough to provide me with 4-6 cups o sorrel. I live in Minnesota and everything’s just starting to come up. Maybe i should divide the clump and grow some more?

  7. Hi Hanks,

    Made the sorrel soup. Tasted amazing!

    Any suggestion what to do with the sorrel stalks? they’re as tasty as the leaves!

  8. Similar to my recipe but I boil potatoes and blend it in with the sorrel and serve cold. My daughter in law is from France and she loves it, Says it reminds her of the soup her mom used to make.

  9. Looks a great recipe and I will adapt it with what I have to hand tonight. Never thought of looking in my Julia Child.

    Please could you explain Ramps? I think you mean what we in deepest Wales would call Ransomes. Wild, green flat long leaf, comes out early spring and is best as soon as it emerges. Past its best it has white flowers. Five months too late for that.

    There is a wild Welsh onion grows in a hedgebank here February to April. Like a very coarse chive. Delightful when it first appears.

    I discovered a patch of wild sorrel this afternoon while relieving a bank on my organic all habitat farm of its chanterelle mushrooms. The pasture is very damp and flukey. Consequently, tasting the sorrel, which I did, is not safe. Consequently, the sorrel needs to be cooked. The leaves are coarse and full, even the new shoots and it doesn’t grow several leaves on a stalk like the sheep sorrel in my hay meadows.

  10. My mother in law had a beautiful herb garden, which I have now reclaimed
    and made into a kitchen garden. Her tiny sorrel leaves about the size of a
    nickel come up in plenty, and it takes a lot of work to harvest enough for
    my favorite soup. It is always worth it, but I found that the large more common sorrel leaves on sale at our farmer’s market make coming up with 4-6 cups worth a lot easier. In the past I have not added egg yolks. Do you think that is an essential ingredient?

  11. Mmmmm! Delicious! We have a huge patch of sorrel which we’ve just halved. I love this soup. Our kids are not convinced. I might try the potato version next time.

  12. mmm…about to have a late April freeze, so I picked a bunch of my sorrel for soup. I thought to check for recipes to see if other people put it in a blender. I was pleased to find you have a recipe, and that it is with egg and a ‘whisker’. Thank you!

  13. Love the frozen sorrel butter idea! I have been growing sorrel in a couple of pots, and have been considering when to make the soup. Now I am ready, thanks to you all! Glad of the warning that the bright green colour won’t prevail when the sorrel is wilted. So, I guess one can add fresh green chopped herbs at the end. I think I shall try tarragon – and use various stocks.

  14. made this today and it came out great – despite a few tough-ish fibers at the base of the older leaves which i failed to remove.

    out of curiosity has anyone tried making this with yellow dock leaves? i’ve tried cooking them before and they they turned to a sour sludge in a pan similar to sorrel.. makes me think they would do fine as a replacement

  15. As a kid I knew that the “sourgrass” with which I grew up in Southern California – it was everywhere in the orange groves in spring – was an oxalis. Now I’ve learned that it’s Oxalis pes-caprae, an invasive yellow-flowered import from South Africa that goes under the name of Bermuda buttercup. It occurred to me tonight to try making soup of it, and it too works. I was making an experimental batch: about a cup of chopped oxalis stirred into a combination of chicken stock and white wine, simmered, blended, and returned to the pot for the addition of a couple tablespoons of frozen duxelles (shallots, parsley, and mushrooms cooked to sludge in butter), then finished with a dollop of cream.

  16. I make a Polish sorrel, szcaw in Polish, soup all year-round. Sorrell freezes beautifully. My daughter grew up on it and still looks forward my cooking it for her at age 30? It’s delicious.

  17. We visited our local garden market in Kielce (Poland) yesterday (September 27th) and I bought a big bunch of sorrel. We have it growing wild in our meadow but usually the leaves are much smaller and only pickable in early Spring.

    This looks like a good recipe so will be having this soup for my lunch today!