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Recipes and Stories

19 March 2015: Strawberry Soup

Chilled Strawberry Soup with Orange and just a touch of whipped cream for garnish

Now that strawberries are in season again, we’re constantly making use of them in the dessert bowl at the end the meal. But while they turn up all through the season in our cereal, salad, and snack bowls, we don’t often think of beginning the meal with them.

And yet, a cool, refreshing strawberry soup is a lovely and novel way to tease palates at the beginning of dinner, luncheon, or even brunch. Fruit soups are nothing new, of course: they’ve been around for centuries, but there always seems to be something fresh and novel about them.

Most American versions of strawberry soup are heavy with dairy products and quite thick. While they can be tasty, they’re really more like a smoothie than soup and I find them wearying after only a few bites. But at Strawberry Street Cafe in Richmond, Virginia, they offer a mildly sweet clear soup that’s light and refreshing and really allows the flavor of the berries to shine through. It’ll make you want to scrape the bowl and ask for more. It was the inspiration for this one.

Serves 4 to 6

2 large juice oranges
1¼ pounds fresh, ripe strawberries, washed
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1-2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger (to taste, see step 2)
1¾ cups water
Salt
About ½ cup of sugar
½ cup unsweetened heavy cream, whipped to firm peaks
4-6 small mint sprigs

1. Remove the zest from one of the oranges in fine julienne with a bar zester, or remove it with a vegetable peeler and then julienne it. Wrap eight to twelve strands in plastic wrap and refrigerate them to use as garnish. Put the remaining zest in the bowl of a blender or food processor fitted with a steel blade. Halve and juice both oranges through a strainer into the machine.

2. Set aside 2 to 4 of the smallest, nicest strawberries for garnish. Stem and core the remainder and add them to the machine. Add the water and a small pinch of salt, cover, and blend until smooth. Taste and add sugar as needed, the cinnamon, and 1 teaspoon of ginger. Pulse to blend, then taste and adjust the sugar and ginger, keeping in mind that the ginger’s flavor will develop as the soup chills. Transfer to a glass bowl, cover, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

3. To serve, halve or slice the reserved berries, leaving a little of their green tops attached. Ladle the soup into serving bowls, garnish with a dollop of whipped cream, the berries, reserved zest, and mint.

Recipe from Beans, Greens, & Sweet Georgia Peaches (Globe Pequot Press), copyright © 2014 by Damon Lee Fowler, all rights reserved

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