Unsung Sorrel

This week we’re featuring a very special guest blog post from Michelle Parisi, Orchard Gardens Neighborhood Farm Assistant. Michelle grew up in Chicago and taught kindergarten before moving west to test her farming skills. She first sprouted her gardening wings as a volunteer for veggies at River Road Farm for her first four seasons. Now the assistant at Orchard Gardens, she aspires to be outfoxed less often by voles and weeds

At Orchard Gardens a patch of sorrel bolts skyward, red and yellow seeds ripening on on four foot tall stalks.  They are hard to overlook, yet these plants had never been harvested until a very special visitor showed us a delightful way to use their sour, lemony leaves.

Sorrel. Photo by Michelle Parisi

It turns out that sorrel grows semi-wild in many parts of the world.  It was easily and enthusiastically recognized by Mr. Karaman, who was visiting his sons at Orchard Gardens homes.  The Karaman family is Kurdish, and their hometown of Hakkari sits high in the mountains of southeastern Turkey.  Due to ongoing political violence in the region, the family has been forced to flee, leaving behind a beloved home and garden.  As we toured the farm together, Mr. Karaman spotted the sorrel and identified it as the very same plant that grows on the hillsides around Hakkari.  He picked a large bunch, deftly tying it with long blades of grass, and invited us to share the soup he would make with it.  The following is the recipe he passed along to us.

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Delicious Kurdish Sorrel Soup

½ cup cooked chickpeas

½ cup cooked bulgur

1 bunch sorrel

1 bunch spinach

mint, thyme, oregano to taste

2 cans chicken broth

1.5 lbs yogurt

1-2 jalapenos (if you like spice)

1 tomato, grated

1 lemon

2 tbsp butter


Mix chick peas, bulgur, greens, tomato, herbs, salt, and butter in a large pot.  Squeeze the lemon into the mix.

In another pot, warm up the chicken broth and slowly mix in the yogurt.  Stir for a few minutes on low heat.

Add broth and yogurt to the greens.

Bring to medium heat, keeping it below the boil, until the greens melt to a soft consistency.