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I have no interest in keeping alive traditional Jewish foods for nostalgia’s sake alone, nor do I mean to suggest that one eat these dishes at the expense of experimenting with new flavors. But as nouveau Jewish restaurants like Mile End in Brooklyn, Wise Sons in San Francisco, and Citron and Rose in Philadelphia, among others, have proved, our ethnically Jewish recipe box is worthy of our renewed attention. (In a 2012 article, also in Time, Ozersky refined his original argument by calling out Mile End for “carving out a relevant, non-nostalgic approach to Jewish cooking.”)
Many of these restaurants focus primarily on meat-centered dishes, leaving a lot of room open to explore on the produce front. Now it’s the home cook’s turn to discover that, when craving the briny, rich and, yes, fresh flavors of fully realized Jewish cuisine, turning to seasonal produce can be downright redemptive.
Farmers’ Market Schav (Sorrel Soup)
Nearly all the ingredients in this traditional Eastern European soup — from the sorrel, onions, eggs and butter that serve as the base, to the potatoes, radishes and cucumber that garnish it — can be sourced from the farmers market.
2 medium Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 onions, finely chopped
1 pound sorrel, bottom stems trimmed off and roughly chopped
5 cups water
1 tablespoon kosher salt, or more to taste
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, or more to taste
2 egg yolks, beaten
garnishes: sour cream, chopped radishes, chopped cucumber
1) Bring a small saucepan filled with water to a boil over high heat; add potato and simmer, stirring occasionally, until tender, 10–15 minutes. Drain well, and set aside to cool.
2) Meanwhile, melt the butter in a medium pot set over medium heat until foaming; add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, 5–7 minutes. Add sorrel and continue cooking, tossing with tongs, until wilted, 2–3 minutes. Add water, salt and sugar; raise heat to medium high and bring to a simmer, then lower heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.
3) Remove soup from the heat, and stir in the lemon juice; let cool slightly. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks with about one-quarter cup of the warm soup, then stir the mixture into the soup; taste and season with additional salt and lemon juice if desired. Set pan back over low heat, and bring to a very gentle simmer (do not re-boil); remove pan from heat.
4) Divide cooked potato pieces between bowls, and ladle soup over them. Top with desired garnishes. To serve cold, let soup cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until chilled.
Leah Koenig writes a monthly column on food. Contact her at email@example.com