You probably aren’t familiar with schav, named one of the “Five Worst Jewish Foods” in D Magazine. Yeeeeah. The sorrel soup is not exactly popular. But I revamped it as a vegan chilled avocado cucumber soup and now it’s the coolest kid in school!
I’ll admit that I was scared when I first purchased sorrel (surprisingly easy to find at farmer’s markets and supermarkets alike, and simple to grow.)
I had heard horror stories of the tart herb, so when I took a tiny bite, I expected the worst. Plus, I learned that the sharp taste comes from oxalic acid, which is fatal in large quantities. Gulp. But what I got was bright, lemony and with a hint of unripe strawberries. I liked it!
Sorrel is the necessary main ingredient in schav, the muddy, chilled soup of Eastern European roots and a bad reputation.
Back in Eastern Europe, when winter diets were filled with bland potatoes and cabbage, the fresh sorrel was a welcome change. According to Gil Marks in “The Encyclopedia of Jewish Food”, schav was usually dairy or pareve to go along with the lighter summer fare. Jews from southern Poland, also known as Galicia, even added sugar to theirs to create a sweet and sour soup. Schav was also a food of survival during the Holocaust, making its significance even more vital. When Jewish immigrants came to the United States, they could still purchase sorrel from vendors on the Lower East Side, but as time went on, the unattractive soup dwindled in popularity.
Dallas-based food blogger Evan Grant named schav #1 on his list of the “Five Worst Jewish Foods” in D Magazine calling it “borscht’s pale green sister”. Ouch. When I told Evan I was setting out to recreate schav, he said, “Amy, I love you for your talents, but this will never happen.” We shall see, Evan. We shall see.