Sorrel adds a tanginess to this classic soup. If you can't find any in your market, fresh baby spinach and a dash of lemon juice would make a good substitute. Don't be tempted to save a few minutes by pureeing the soup in a food processor or blender, as the texture will turn gluey.
4 cups chicken stock or canned low-sodium broth
1 pound tender young leeks, white and tender greens thinly sliced and dark green tops reserved
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 pound small white new potatoes, thinly sliced
1 large bunch sorrel (3/4 pound), stemmed and cut into thin ribbons
1/4 pound pencil-thin asparagus (about 10), cut into 1-inch lengths
1/4 cup half-and-half
Salt and freshly ground pepper
How to Make It
In a large saucepan, combine the chicken stock with the leek tops. Cover and simmer over low heat until the stock is flavorful, about 10 minutes, then strain, pressing on the leeks to extract as much liquid as possible; discard the solids.
In another large saucepan, heat 1/2 tablespoon of the oil. Add the sliced leeks and potatoes and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until the leeks are softened but not browned, 9 to 10 minutes. Add the stock, cover and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in the sorrel and cook until wilted, about 2 minutes.
Puree the soup in a food mill or work it through a fine sieve, discarding the fibers and potato skins. Refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours.
Meanwhile, in a small skillet, heat the remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil. Add the asparagus and cook over moderately high heat until slightly browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool.
Stir the half-and-half and asparagus into the soup. Season with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into bowls and serve.
Make Ahead: The soup can be made through Step 3 and refrigerated for up to 1 day.
Wine Recommendation: The rich texture of this soup suggests Chardonnay, but the sorrel and asparagus add a tartness that makes a savory California Sauvignon Blanc a better partner. Two choices are the 1996 Chalk Hill or the 1996 Simi.