Gratin & Traditional French zucchini casserole
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Why The French Won't Give You The (Entire) Recipe

Delicious sorrel soup - with a swirl of Pesto in Bed. Recipe follows.

TODAY'S WORD: oseille (f)

    : sorrel (a plant)

Oseille is also slang for "cash", or "dough". To comment on this word, go here.

to Jean-Marc read these French words:
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Frotter une feuille de Rumex (l'oseille) sur une peau piquée par les orties ou les insectes supprime les démangeaisons.
To stop itching, rub Rumex (sorrel, dock) leaf on skin stung by nettle or insects.

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"Sorrel Soup and a Sundae"

    by Kristin Espinasse

Have you ever made tapenade or gratin de courgettes or French yogurt cake and wondered if quelque chose was missing? Well something probably was! The question is: did the French person who gave you the recipe intend any culinary deceit?

I wonder about these things, too, as I work in my garden cleaning up the patch of oseille. Tossing aside a dozen torn or bitten leaves it suddenly occurs to me I could put them to good use - in soup! But before heading off to the kitchen, I take the opportunity to show off an exceptional part of my garden (this tidied up area being l'exception!).

For the photo, I summon my mannequin, Smokey. At 5ft3--and a half--inches tall (on his tiptoes), Smokey is too short to strut down the fashion runways in Paris, but he is Top Dog here in the countryside. Now if only he would behave as a professional model would, by striking a pose! Instead, Smokey sees my photographer gestures as an invitation to wrestle!

I respond, trying to pin my dog down for a selfie. After 5 minutes I'm out of breath, I've lost my hat, and my face is scratched. Smokey is ready for round 2!  

Eventually I get a photo to post at Instagram, and another I can use at the end of this post. (Which reminds me to speed up this story or you will never get a recipe out of me--just like you won't get one from a French person. And you'll soon learn why....) 

Back in the kitchen, I put a swirl of olive oil into a small saucepan (just me eating today, so "petite soupe"). I take a lump of butter, using it to spread the oil across the pan, before putting the lump back in the butter dish.

Next, I sauté half a chopped yellow onion in this butter-oil mixture. I toss in the French sorrel (about one-half cup), leaving on the stalks. (Push the leaves around the pan, along with the onions,  for five minutes...)

I go and get the leftover cooked potatoes in the fridge... and rejoice seeing the sauce. I'd forgotten they were cooked with the roasted chicken. Good flavoring for my soup! 

I add the potatoes and sauce to the pan and chop down the former with the help of my wooden spatula...

Next, a bouillon cube.... (chicken, beef, or vegetable--I can't see which as I've tossed the box!)

Now's time to add sour cream. Only we don't have any.... Milk will work even better, as we need to add volume to this soup (enough to get a bowl or two for my lunch!). The milk will also help to cool down the "potage" in time to use the immersion blender to mix it up....

*    *    *

Now, I believe those are the ingredients I have used for this Sorrel soup -- along with salt and pepper to taste... and a grind or two of garlic flakes (oh, and the salt was herbal salt... part herbs, part salt....). But if for some reason your soup doesn't come out just right... then you will know the answer to today's question: Why The French Won't Give You The Entire Recipe

Because they have forgotten an ingredient or two!

*    *    *

The soup was so delicious that, after finishing two bowls, I went and licked the pan clean. It was also so satisfying that I didn't think to complete the meal with bread or cheese. This meant that 2 hours later, while on the way to the health food store, I pulled over and ate a cheeseburger, fries and a sundae at McDonald's. "Which makes your mom a hypocrite!" I admitted to my daughter, who sat facing me in the fast food booth.

"Oh, but it is sooo good!" Jackie said, encouraging me to dip my greasy fries into my chocolate sundae--which seemed like a perfectly good idea to me.

 *    *    *

   What do you think, Smokey?

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Can't wait to try this soup when my own sorrel is up in the Spring. Or I might get lucky and find some in the market. Sounds delicious! I love the way you cook Kristie!


a skill or knowledge that is hidden is lost forever!!!



Great idea for making a quick soup for one. I used to do that when I was a chef and I was pregnant with first son. I would cook on the line. Put my much needed vegetables in a food processor with some potato, add heavy cream and butter. Not exactly healthy, but desquised the veggies I wouldn't eat normally. Last week at work I made chicken cacciatore for the guys. It came out fine, but not as juicy as I wanted. I had forgotten the stock. I thought, oh no!! Has my memory, or lack there of, at times, finally creeped into my cooking???? I am hoping it was a one time thing.

Enjoy your impromptu jaunts from the garden to the kitchen!!!


Hi Kristin,

The soup sounds delicious and the McDonald's too. I haven't eaten McDonald's in probably 10 years. I used to just love their fries!

Can't believe you are still gardening there! We are buried under 28 inches of snow! Or, I should say my husband is. hahahaha

Mary Keates

Hah ha ha,
A perfect end to a delicious French recipe! I am going to make this soup,but I will skip Mickey D's.In France even McDonalds food is better,especially the milkshake(is there really any milk?)
In Paris,we lived on Rue Buffon,5 doors from McDonalds. In the evening,if I realized we needed milk,I would trot down the Rue...the young man would be getting out the order for the crazy American woman before I asked.He taught me sur place and à emporter

Pam Luckey

OOOOh, Kristin! That recipe for soup sounds absolutely fantastic! I must try it. Does the sorrel grow wild on your property? We have three different herbs here in Florida which have the common name of "sorrel". Is it possible to get a photo of the herb that you used?

Kristin Espinasse

Thanks, Diane. Cooking is becoming more relaxing, the more I do it "au pif" or by guesswork...looking up the recipe when there is a doubt or question.

Kristin Espinasse

You'll have to make that for us, too!

Kristin Espinasse

Haha! Bring him some hot chocolate! Bon courage to anyone battling snow.

Kristin Espinasse

I forgot to label it in the photo at the end of this post. It looks a lot like spinach.

Chris Allin

Dear Kristi,

What a fun post today. I can so relate to the way you cook...I make soup the same way! Can't wait to try this and was interested to learn of the amazing nutritive value of sorrel.
As for McDonalds, you can thank my brother-in-law for bringing it to France (and Germany, Belgium and England) in the mid 1980's. At the time we were living in Germany and I was a bit skeptical. What did I know!
Silly Smokey...looking at your pictures, one might think he poses perfectly for you each time. Thanks for the smiles, a great way to start the day!


How in the world do you stay so slim eating all that - and for lunch!


Excellent post, and I can relate to forgetting an ingredient or two while cooking au pif, which is the best way to make soup. Oh, and I wouldn't call you a hypocrite for eating a McDonald's treat on your way to the health food store. It's all about giving ourselves permission to savour life. Sounds like you have the right idea of balance.

Trina from St. Petersburg, FL USA

Smokey looks so exceptionally tender and sweet in this photo. Adorable.

judi dunn

.....Kristin..... Cooking is a creative art, from my point of view... not an exact science! As for the Mickey D's ... well, what the heck.. Carpe Diem! Life is short.... Have a wonderful week. Cheers, Judi Dunn, Tallahassee, Florida

Jens from Copenhagen

Hi Kristi:

I think you forgot to mention the pistou for the Soup!

If the soup is served hot, some grated parmesan cheese on top is also yummy.

P.S. another missing ingredient might be a pinch of sugar to balance the bitter sorrel?

Sue Lennox

Krist, c'est une explication parfaite!

Karen Cafarella

HA HA HA!! I find that too Kristi. Try to eat so healthy, but boy it doesn't last and then I am starving!



A fun blog from a most amazing "character" -- affectueusement


Sounds like a plan! First the piccata, than that.


NO, not McDonalds ;-} You need an In and Out Burger place if you are going to do it. I usually regret it a few hours later, but at the time.....sooo...satisfying.
I wonder what other type of leafy green like sorrel one could use. Sort of how I make asparagus soup , it is green. Love the way you give a recipe, " if not this, try that. Hmm, let's see what is in the fridge....oh, that might work" No wonder ingredients seem to be left out.

Gordon Lyman



Kristin: I was not familiar with sorrel as an herb or veggie. We had a sorrel-colored horse. Thanks for this info and for the pictures. Vivian

Sheryl in Denver

I ate at a McDoe (my French friend said that's their nickname) in Paris a few years back, just for kicks, and I must say, your McDonalds are way better than ours! First of all, the menu had lots of great things that we don't get here. But most important, the meat was so much tastier (no chemicals, preservatives, pesticides, GMOs, etc., and probably grain fed, not corn), the cheese was real (not plastic "American" cheese - blechhh) and the French (!) Fries were awesome. Leave it to the French to outdo America's own fast food. Vive la France!

Joanne Ablan

Hi, Kristi,
I agree with the remarks about the In and Out burgers; ils sont préférables
aux Grands Mc's. Also, the part about dipping the pommes frites in the chocolate sundae was a literary device written for reader shock value, right?

Julie Farrar

I'm grateful for any bit of a recipe I get from a French acquaintance. This week I wanted to make mushroom soup and couldn't find my recipe. All I remembered was it had morels in it. I googled one, but clearly something is still missing. As for McDoe's I agree that it does taste better in France than the U.S. I try not to indulge too much, but sometimes I'm out and about and I want a quick meal. It's either that or a kebab.

Dawn Johnson

I've been hearing on the news that McDonalds in Japan is introducing chocolate covered fries

Stacy - Sweet Life Farm

Ah, the sweetness and sustenance (and Smokey-ness) of life!


Our dear Kristi,
What could be more heavenly than soup made with sorrel from your own garden? It looks so delicious!Besides being a gifted writer,you are a gifted cook as well!
THANK YOU for sharing your wonderful recipes with us! (YUM!)
Love that adorable picture of you and sweet Smokey!
How could there be a better way to start our day?
Natalia XO
(PS Will not even go there with Mac,fries and a sundae!
Does anybody-- besides me-- remember Mr Bill???

Sarah LaBelle near Chicago

les démangeaisons, that means itch or itching in French? An unexpected word to me.
Rumex is the genus for sorrel, I looked it up on English and French Wikipedias. Interesting that sorrel is a word for cash, as we say lettuce some times in the US?

Some articles on sorrel soup, very popular in many countries, say that adding sour cream or milk counters the sour flavor of the herb, so no sugar needed if milk is in the soup. Sounds good. In Russia they call the soup green borscht, but they make it to look as evenly green as split pea soup, at least in the photos I saw. I need to make soups again. Seems I gave up the habit without noticing it.

Diane Young

I like the way you cook. I don't like our Mcdonald
s (Jacksonville is the home of Burger King, which I do like). BK has had coupons lately and yesterday I got 2 for 1 Whoppers with small orders of fries and cokes for about $9. I couldn't wait to taste the warm fries as I'm driving home. Just now the delivery man left me a package from OXO with 2 Hand-Held Spiralizers. I only meant to order one but my computer skills aren't always that great. Anyhow this is kitchen gadget that was featured in the "Parade" magazine last week and I wanted to try it. The purpose of it is to make noodles from vegetables, which sounds great to me since I don't much like pasta and can't eat cheese. It's fun to try new things. I want an emulsion blender but the price is too high, I think. The hand-held spiralizer was $15.95 so I figured I'd get my money's worth out of that. The one featured in Parade was $59.95 and made by Cuisinart. OXO is asking over $80 for theirs. I will treat myself to one for my April birthday, maybe. I always thought sorrel was a type of nut, like acorns, which obviously isn't true, so it's interesting to read about it. We never outgrow our experiements with vegs. I was not good about eating my vegs in younger days but now am enjoying them. There's a soup here labeled "Amy's" which is very good. I've had the split pea w/ham and the chunky vegetable and they are very tasty. It's an organic product. Bon appetit!

Diane Young

The emulsion blender is $59.95 or $80+, not the vegetable spiraler.

Audrey Wilson

The soup looks delicious ! I shall look for some sorrel hereabouts . Smokey,-" Well, the bouquet is good ,as is the colour , now for a degustation Mmm quite a good year I think "

Kathleen from Connecticut

We don't find sorrel and chervil in our stores. It is a French thing. Wish we could since so many recipes call for them. I might be wrong...sorrel might be found but only in small quantities, but not chervil.
I am going to make Frecnh Lentil soup tonight. Love it and I have found converts who now like Lentil soup.



search on amazon for immersion or hand blender. you will find reasonably priced options.

Gail Accuardi

I had to laugh out loud by the last paragraph...McDonalds is a deep temptation when one is starved.
I was surprised that you use "cubes" for flavoring. If you roasted a chicken you would be better pleased by making chicken broth and freezing it for just such an occasion as Sorrel Soup Also, women need the bones. I am 79 now and have the bones of a 20 year old. I have been told that this is because of my habit over all these years of roasting bones for stock for soups and sauces I was taught this by John Snoden a French chef who was the chef for Eisenhower. Veggie stock can be mad eand frozen too, made from scraps from the garden, mushrooms and herbs. Much more nutrition...cubes have none that I know of.
It sound like all is well. Good wishes to you and family. G

Linda Kovic-Skow

Hello Kristin. I'm so pleased that I found your blog along with your book, Blossoming in France. It's waiting for me in my nightstand. I enjoyed (and prepared) many different French dishes during my stay in France as an au pair in 1979. Many of them are written down in my diary and fortunately, Madame included all of the ingredients, lol.

Nyla Witmore

You may discover AVOCADO OIL used in place of olive oil (ooohhhh...but I should not suggest since you also sell olive oil...oops) ? It has a faintly unique flavor, like olive oil mixed with butter

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