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Russian Spinach And Sorrel Soup

ingredients

2 1/4 - 2 1/2 lb (1 kg) spinach
8 oz (250 g) small sorrel leaves
1 medium-sized carrot, peeled and very finely chopped
1 large Spanish onion, peeled and very finely chopped
2 tbsp finely chopped parsley
1 oz (30 g) butter
3 tbsp plain flour
2 bay leaves I pint (600 ml) beef stock
4 hard-boiled eggs salt and black peppercorns
For the smetana:
3 1/2 fl oz (100 ml) whipping cream, stiffly beaten
2 fl oz (50 ml) soured cream or Greek yoghurt
1 lemon

method

1. Wash the spinach very thoroughly, using only the crisp, fresh and tender leaves and removing all but the thinnest stalks.

2. Remove the stalks from the sorrel, wash and set aside.

3 .Sweat the spinach in a covered saucepan for 2 minutes with a pinch of salt and no added water. Place the spinach in a sieve and refresh under running cold water; squeeze out all the moisture. Puree in the food processor.

4. Sweat the finely chopped onion, carrot and parsley in the butter for 10 minutes over a low heat in a large covered saucepan, stirring at frequent intervals. Stir in the flour and continue stirring while cooking for about 30 seconds.

5. Remove from the heat and pour in all the boiling stock at once; beat vigorously to prevent lumps forming.
Stir in the pureed spinach, the bay leaf and a few whole black peppercorns, these last 2 tied in a small piece of muslin. Simmer gently for 10 minutes; shred the sorrel leaves into a chiffonade, add to the soup and simmer for a further 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

6. Draw aside from the heat, remove the peppercorns and add salt to taste.

7. Slice the hard-boiled eggs thinly; make the smetana by mixing the stiffly beaten cream, the soured cream and a little lemon juice to taste.

8. Ladle the soup into individual heated soup bowls; place 1 tbsp of the smetana in each and float the egg slices on top (one egg per serving). Serve at once.

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