Sorrel Soup, French Style

4.88 from 33 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 33 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.

4.88 from 33 votes (10 ratings without comment)

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  1. How would you adjust the recipe please if you wanted to remove the oxalates? They contribute to kidney stones for those susceptible? Thank you!

    1. Sandy: Sorry. Make another soup then. Sorrel is the main ingredient here, and cannot be substituted.

  2. If you prefer it less olive colored I like to wash the sorrel leaves in “fruit fresh” or lemon juice in a bowl of water then add them to the soup just before you temper the eggs in. I purée the soup after to break down the sorrel a bit more. It tastes just as good and it stays less dark colored. Thanks for the recipe.

  3. This was absolutely delicious! It was perfect as written. We inhaled it as is. We also garnished with flaky salt, Urfa chili, Maras pepper and dukkah. Over the top good. I am thinking of making a few batches and stopping before adding stock so that I can freeze the “base” and make it as written (with egg yolks and cream) all year long. Think that would work?

  4. “This soup would be inedible without the cream and eggs to temper it” – lol, no. Coming from a country where it’s made without flour, cream, or eggs, I can assure you that it’s very edible. On hot days we drink it chilled, usually paired with roasted potatoes. Also, instead of cooking the onions, we just pick a sweet one, mince it, and add it on top like garnish. It makes the soup taste fresher and spicier.