Sorrel, Watercress And Roasted Fennel Soup

One of the most delicious wild greens is Sorrel (Rumex acetosa). Sorrel soup has been a traditional dish served since the Middle Ages.

In Belarus and Poland, it is still popular as soup, yet in the British Isles it’s prominence has wained.

Sorrel has a delicious tangy flavour, with one of the common names that children often call it being ‘vinegar leaf’.

If you ever go out on long walks and chance upon a nice patch of sorrel, try nibbling on some of the raw leaves.

You’ll find that eating sorrel triggers your saliva glands, and produces a refreshing explosion of citrus flavours that give way to a nice release of saliva. Perfect if you are feeling somewhat thirsty.

In bygone days, sorrel was used for adding sour flavours to our dishes along with French Sorrel (Rumex scutatus), which is a larger variety and tended to be grown in vegetable gardens.

In the 1400s lemons where beginning to be imported into England, and the use of sorrel got replaced.

This makes sense when you consider that to get the same amount of flavour as the juice of half a lemon, you would need to pick a large amount of sorrel which in the busy kitchens of grand households would take time. Productivity and time-management had come of age!

Local names of common sorrel

A Note About Photo Identification

If you want to know what Sorrel (Rumex acetosa) looks like, please get a wildflower ID book out of the library, or buy one of these ones. Then look the plant up using the botanical name – that’s the Rumex acetosa bit – I encourage you to get off the screen, go outside and find the plant in question in the wilds. See this as a game of curiosity. Child like wonder. Enjoy.

Sorrel Soup Recipe Ingredients

  • 130 g sorrel
  • 100 g watercress
  • 2 medium-sized fennel
  • 3 dessert spoons tamari
  • 1 onion
  • 1″ piece of fresh ginger (chopped)
  • 2″ piece of fresh turmeric (chopped)
  • 1-litre vegan stock
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • cracked black pepper to taste

Sorrel Soup Recipe Instructions

  1. Place the fennel in a conventional oven at 200 °C, fan-assisted 180°C or gas mark 6, and roast for 20 minutes.
  2. While the fennel is cooking, saute the onion in a small amount of olive oil, along with the ginger and turmeric.
  3. Wash the sorrel and watercress and chop.
  4. Remove the fennel from the oven, take off any tough outer skin, and chop.
  5. In a blender add all the ingredients, and pulse, blitz, blend the mixture to your desired consistency. Some people like fine soups, others chunky.
  6. Heat and serve.

Serves: 2 people


  1. Great article. perhaps a pic of what the sorrel looks like would help? are you referring to what i know as yellow wood sorrel? Or the one with the longer upright leaves?

  2. Sounds great; but I’m a novice at all this greenery stuff and have no idea what sorrel looks like, so a leaf ID and picking primer would be really useful, although I imagine it may exist elsewhere on the site?

    • GOOGLE it??
      Robin is very generous with his knowledge and unlike some, he gives you the Latin name. Armed with that, it’s a small task to do a search for pictures for yourself if you are unfamiliar with a plant.

  3. A Note About Photo Identification
    If you want to know what Sorrel (Rumex acetosa) looks like, please get a wildflower ID book out of the library, or buy one of these ones. Then look the plant up using the botanical name – that’s the Rumex acetosa bit – then get off the screen, get outside and go and find the plant in question in the wilds.

  4. I love sorrel and regularly have a nibble while I am walking my dogs. Will have to give this recipe a go but just out of interest why do you say to use chicken stock rather than vegetable stock (I am a vegetarian and will substitute anyway)

  5. Boy, some people don’t know how to look up the plant? Or do they just wish to be spoon-fed..
    Thanks for this recipe – I love sorrel. Am thinking would be nice to add in some boiled or roasted potato too.
    Love your site, thank you for all the great info – from New Mexico, USA!

  6. Looks yummy, and I will try finding sorrel and making the soup. Thanks for linking it with history and geography, it is nice to know that somebody on some other plane of existence also experienced that taste sensation.

  7. Sound delish.. there’s some sooper sized sorrel near me I know of… looking forward to getting some now and trying out this recipe. Thanks Robin

  8. I never thought to use sorrel as lemon flavouring, what a lovely idea! I made my own version of soup: sorrel, fennel, garlic scapes, garlic, red lentils, fresh ginger, turmeric and salt. It turned out pretty good. This week I am going to make sorrel lemonade.

  9. Might I suggest an easy alternative use for wild sorrel? Pick a handful of leaves, wash them if you are so inclined, tear them up and cook them on a low heat with a little butter. The leaves will quickly turn into a khaki-coloured mush. Use this to fill, or mix in with, an omelette made in the normal way. The sharpness of the sorrel complements the richness of the egg beautifully.

  10. Hello, thank you for the recipes!
    I was wondering whether I can substitute the Rumex acetosa with the broad-leaved dock (Rumex obtusifolius)?
    I googled this plant, and I found contrasting information about whether it is poisonous or not. From what I understood it is poisonous for cattle, but maybe not for human? Many thanks.

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