The original recipe can be found in the American History Cookbook; in the original, you add a hunk of stale bread and cream the soup together into something I can only imagine resembles baby food. In my modernized version, I leave this final step out, and let the vegetables maintain their integrity in the broth.
I made this soup recently at my friend Mark’s house: I had gathered some wild onions from a farmer’s field and brought them over as a gift. He pointed out some wild greens in his front yard, and we decided to make a batch of soup meagre.
The original recipe features sorrel, a leafy green that is ready in May when it’s cultivated, and June if it’s found wild. It’s flavor is tart and distinctly lemony. When choosing greens for this soup, I recommend using a combination of mild and tart flavors. I also enjoy making this soup heartier with the addition of a hard boiled egg for garnish. This recipe can be made your own with the additions of any ingredients you have on hand: mushrooms, white beans, ham; be creative. We didn’t have cloves, so we used cinnamon and red pepper flakes. This recipe can also easily be made vegetarian by using a vegetable broth instead of chicken.
The point is: feel free to diverge from this recipe in ingredients and proportions. It’s very hard to go wrong.
Inspired by a recipe from a 1723 manuscript as it appears in The American History Cookbook by Mark H. Zanger.
2. Add chicken stock, cloves, and peas. Bring to a boil. Test peas for doneness (they want to be a little under done at this point). Taste and re-season broth, if necessary.
3. Add greens and cook five more minutes, or until greens are just wilted.