Cold Sorrel and Coconut Milk Soup – Recipe

Cold Sorrel and Coconut Soup
Cold Sorrel and Coconut Milk Soup

First, a quick bit of housekeeping. I recently moved the Herbivoracious email list over to a new, more robust provider. In the process, some of you received an email asking you to reconfirm your subscription. This kind of thing is easy to miss, especially if you are aren’t expecting them. So if you aren’t getting today’s post by email, just sign up again. Look over there ——-> and you’ll see a place near the top of the sidebar to enter your email address. Of course if you never were on the list, please sign up too! It is a great way to make sure you see each new recipe, and I’ll also be sending out the occasional special announcement or offer to mailing list subscribers only.

Now, on to today’s recipe. This isn’t what I set out to make. I’d bought some sorrel at our farmer’s market, with an idea to do more of a straight-ahead Indian style soup, substituting the sorrel where you might normally have spinach or another leafy green. As soon as I’d wilted the sorrel, its lemony flavor was so refreshing that I was experiencing cognitive dissonance tasting it hot. I saw right away that it wanted to be a cold soup. I stuck with my plan to use coconut milk, not cream, but pureed it and limited the flavoring to just a bit of fresh ginger. Once chilled, I loved the result. I could have easily slugged back the whole thing in a glass.

I’ve only made this once so far, so I haven’t tried doing it without cooking the sorrel at all, but I suspect that would be a fine move and probably have a bit nicer color. If you try it, let me know.

With pureed soups, the difference between good and great is in achieving a velvety texture. Run your blender for a good long time so that it has maximum opportunity to reduce the particle size. Then use first a coarse sieve, than your finest sieve to strain out the remaining fibers. Or better yet, buy yourself this badass professional fine chinois – I got one and love it.

Cold Sorrel and Coconut Milk Soup
Vegetarian, vegan, gluten free and kosher
Serves 2 (easily multiplied), or more as an amuse-bouche sized serving

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup minced white onion
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 ounces sorrel leaves and tender stems
  • One 13.5 ounce can coconut milk (preferably without added thickeners / gums)
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 cup finely diced peeled and seeded cucumber
  • 1/4 cup finely diced red onion
  • Maldon (aka the world’s greatest salt) salt
  1. In a large skillet, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the white onion and a big pinch of salt and cook until translucent. Add the sorrel leaves and cook until just barely wilted, about 30 seconds. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
  2. Put the coconut milk, ginger and 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a blender. Add the sorrel mixture on top. Cover, open the vent, cover the vent hole with a towel, and blend on maximum speed for 2 minutes.
  3. Pass through your finest sieve and then refrigerate until cold. Chill your serving bowls as well.
  4. Just before serving, taste and adjust seasoning. Divide among the serving bowls. Mix together the cucumber and red onion and garnish the soup. Finish with a few flakes of Maldon (aka the world’s greatest salt) and serve.


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Posted by Michael Natkin on Monday, July 2nd, 2012 in Gluten-Free or modifiable, Recipes, Soups, Vegan or Modifiable.

11 Responses to “Cold Sorrel and Coconut Milk Soup – Recipe”

  1. Reply
    July 2, 2012 at 6:58 am #

    These are such delish flavors I love! Ginger and coconut cream are staples in my kitchen and often use them for vegetables, fish and meat dishes. We have so many Filipino dishes with these flavors. I just did a post on “Broiled Eggplant with Burnt Coconut Cream” , a heritage recipe by “burning” the coconut which is old fashioned method of cooking. I can never resist a recipe when I see “coconut” in it. Thanks for sharing this, Michael ! Just wondering, what can I substitute if I don’t have sorrel leaves?

    • Reply
      July 2, 2012 at 7:57 am #

      Betty, please share a link to the Broiled Eggplant with Burn Coconut cream, sounds very interesting! There really isn’t a substitute for sorrel, it has such a unique flavor, but I suppose about the closest thing would be to use a mild green like spinach for the base color and then add lemon and lemon zest. Wouldn’t be bad, but not quite the same :(.

  2. Reply
    July 2, 2012 at 8:00 am #

    I left a comment as soon as I received e-mail, and it disappeared… How odd… Anyway, to sum up what I’ve said before on the sorrel: love it! Anything with the sorrel tastes great, and this soup invites to be eaten right away. 🙂
    Sorrel has such a unique taste that is really hard to replace. After hunting for sorrel each year, I started to grow my own, and back in Seattle I had it in the pots on my balcony. Glad to hear Farmer’s Markets started to sell it back home…:)
    Michael, I have a favor to ask you, if you don’t mind: could you, please, put metric measurements next to non-metric. It would really help your reader, that are in metric zone… 🙂 Thanks!

    • Reply
      July 2, 2012 at 8:07 am #

      Hey Marina – that’s a good idea to grow your own sorrel. Pretty easy? I totally hear you on the metric measurements, I just don’t have the time to do the conversions. Sometimes I’ll do things in grams if it is a recipe that really benefits from by-weight accuracy.

      • Reply
        July 2, 2012 at 10:09 am #

        Yes, Michael, in Seattle it’s pretty easy, just find some seeds and plant it, and it will grow itself… 🙂 Tested seeds are from Botanical Interests. I tried some other seed companies too but with less luck though. Plant it now and you’ll have your own sorrel by fall! I am able to grow sorrel here, in the South too, in the shaded area.
        It’s funny because I have a few recipe to be posted with sorrel this week! 🙂 So come see it later on.

  3. Reply
    July 2, 2012 at 8:58 am #

    Thanks for the reply, Michael. Will keep the Sorrel tips in mind. I tweeted this to you, but I had a follow-up tip to it. Here’s my link to the “Eggplant in Burnt Coconut Cream with Bitter Melon-Nectarines Salad” : (from my blog “Asian In Americamag” )

    link to

    The recipe was from the updated, revised version of cookbook “Memories of Philippine Kitchens” by Amy Besa & Romy Dorotan.
    Before I posted my blog, I sent my “eggplant” photos to Amy Besa. She replied by saying my “Bitter Melon-Nectarines Salad” on top of the eggplant should look more raw, fresh and should not look sauteed. I did not saute the bitter melon – nectarines salad, of course. I followed the recipe exactly as indicated. Only thing is I think I overcooked the burnt coconut cream and when I poured it over the eggplant the fresh salad on top began to look mushy and cooked. But overall, the “burnt coconut” method was amazing and flavors were fantastic. I urge you to try the method. It’s a great base for other recipes you may have in mind. Burning coconut cream is a very old, traditional way of cooking in the Philippines, especially in provinces abundant with coconut trees. Let me know if you need help with anything else 🙂

  4. Reply
    July 5, 2012 at 2:27 am #

    What a great soup for making and eating during this warmer weather. I have never tried sorrel before, but this recipe has made me curious (and also want to buy a chinois like that!)

    • Reply
      July 5, 2012 at 6:12 am #

      That chinois is awesome, for sure. Tips, if you get one: first, use a coarser strainer to get rid of anything larger, b/c the chinois clogs easily. Then, for the first pass, you’ll want to use the back of a ladle or a spatula to push the soup through the chinois. Then if you want absolute maximum smoothness, rinse the chinois, and do a final pass with no pushing.

      • Reply
        July 6, 2012 at 2:42 am #

        I can imagine that this would yield a supremely smooth and velvety texture — thanks for the tip!

  5. Reply
    July 22, 2012 at 4:55 am #

    I have never tried using sorrel before but this one looks easy to make. I hope it blends well with the coconut milk.

  6. Reply
    April 18, 2013 at 7:50 pm #

    I really, really wanted to like this soup… I love coconut, and I just discovered sorrel and have been enjoying it in different dishes. Alas, this wasn’t a winner… for starters, it seemed simple and quick, but it took me forever to clean the strainers afterwards. I think it would actually have been easier to just juice the sorrel, and maybe add a little bit of thickener to the soup to make up for the loss of texture 🙂

    Anyways, my husband and I did not like the soup at all. It was very fatty (and we only had a very small serving of it as an appetizer). The tastes didn’t work together, either. We tried modifying the soup with various additions, but ended up throwing it out because it just wasn’t edible, to be honest. Too bad… I make new dishes all the time and this is the first time in months that we threw out something I made.

    I have your cookbook and will definitely be trying more of your recipes! Hopefully the next one will be better 😉

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