Welcome to Wednesday. As the temperature heads above 80 today, it’s a great time to read about ice cream: specifically Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, the subject of one of our cover stories this week. Company founder Jeni Britton Bauer not only makes a terrific product; she also reveals secrets that home cooks can use to turn out splendid ice cream of their own. (There’s a recipe, too.)
If healthful foods are more your style, check out today’s story about how sprouted food continues to become more popular despite some safety concerns. And you won’t want to miss Bonnie Benwick’s Book Report, featuring a crop of new garden-to-table cookbooks.
Read, then drop everything at noon so you can join today’s Free Range chat, our weekly klatch to talk about all things Food. Bring your questions, and remember: If we don’t get to them today, maybe I’ll pick yours to answer in this space next week. Here’s a leftover question from last week’s chat:
Have you ever heard of such a thing as raspberry soup? I believe I had some years and years ago, and loved it, but can’t find anything like it. Ideas?
I’ve made strawberry soup and cherry soup; can raspberry soup be very different? I doubt it, so I think I’ll be able to help.
But first, a tribute to cold fruit soups in general, which deserve a place at your table now that the heat has descended and seasonal produce is arriving. I’d never tried them until the day many years ago when a Chicago friend took me to Ann Sather, a Swedish restaurant, where fruit soup was a popular starter. Because it was chilled, I wasn’t expecting much flavor, but I was pleasantly surprised by the tart, fresh taste.
Turns out fruit soups are also big in Poland. Here at The Post, deputy Travel editor Zofia Smardz has a great blueberry soup recipe from her Polish American mother, who also made cherry soup and apricot soup for the family when Zofia was growing up.
Zofia did a little research and learned that raspberries can safely be substituted for the blueberries. So here’s her blueberry soup recipe, which will become the blueprint for the raspberry soup you want to make. And here’s a link to her humorous tale about making it — she can laugh at it now.
Then, because I’m hoping you’ll want to try your hand at other varieties, I’m including two more: one made with cherries, one with melon. Here’s to fruitful experimentation!
Zofia Smardz’s mother used to add wide egg noodles and serve the soup at room temperature for a suppertime meal.
But these days it’s generally served well chilled as an elegant starter. Feel free to play with additional spices: A dash of cloves is tasty, as is allspice or nutmeg.
A few years ago, Smardz started finding similar recipes online that call for a little wine, either red or white, and she endorses that. It adds an oh-so-subtle oomph.
4 to 6 servings
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries, plus a few for garnish
2 cups water
1/2 cup sugar
8 to 10 thin lemon slices
1 cinnamon stick (may substitute 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon)
1/2 cup red wine, such as pinot noir (optional)
1 cup low-fat sour cream or plain low-fat yogurt, plus more for garnish (may use nonfat)
Combine the blueberries, water, sugar, lemon slices and cinnamon stick in a medium saucepan; bring to a full boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, for 15 minutes, stirring once or twice. Strain the mixture into a bowl; discard the solids. Cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
Just before serving, whisk in the wine, if using, and the sour cream or yogurt. (The sour cream or yogurt may break into lumps, but don’t worry; they will disappear as you keep whisking.) Divide among chilled bowls; garnish each serving with some berries and an additional dollop of sour cream, if desired.
The recipe is a stripped-down version of soup that is sometimes served in Hungarian restaurants.
Feel free to serve it chunky or pureed.
MAKE AHEAD: The soup needs to be refrigerated for at least several hours or overnight.
4 to 6 first-course servings
2 pounds fresh sweet or sour cherries, stemmed
2 cups water
10 teaspoons to 1/4 cup sugar (see directions)
1 cinnamon stick
1/8 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (may substitute 3 or 4 strips of lemon zest)
1 cup dry red wine
Wash and pit the cherries; place them in a large saucepan along with the water, sugar (if using sweet cherries, use 10 teaspoons; if using sour cherries, use 1/4 cup), cinnamon stick and lemon juice. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar; then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook (uncovered) for 15 minutes, stirring often.
Add the wine, stir to combine. Remove from the heat; discard the cinnamon stick. Taste and add a small amount of sugar as needed.
Reserve a small amount of the cooked cherries, to be added later for texture.
Use an immersion (stick) blender to puree the remaining cherries, or transfer them to a blender and puree until smooth. Strain, if desired. Transfer to a container with a tight-fitting lid; add the reserved cherries.
Cover and refrigerate the soup for several hours or overnight. Serve cold.
Everything here is about the perfume: the sweet wine, the melon, the figs in brandy.
The soup takes about 35 minutes to prepare and needs 2 hours to chill, or up to overnight. If you use fresh figs, macerate them, uncooked, in brandy for about 1 hour; or heat them with the brandy for no more than 5 minutes and let cool, uncovered.
Makes four or five 1-cup servings
1 small (2 1/2 to 3 pounds) honeydew melon, quartered, seeded, rind removed, and cut into small cubes
8 basil leaves
Juice of 1 large lime (about 3 tablespoons)
1 cup sweet white wine, such as Moscato d’Asti
4 dried Turkish figs, quartered
1/2 cup brandy
4 thin prosciutto slices
Puree the melon, basil and lime juice in a blender or a food processor until smooth; stop to scrape down the sides as necessary (you may have to work in batches). Transfer to a large bowl and add the wine, stirring to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight. (The soup may separate a bit in storage; whisk to reincorporate.)
Heat the dried figs and brandy in a small saucepan over medium heat until the brandy begins to bubble. Cover and remove from the heat; let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes or until the figs have softened.
Meanwhile, in a large, dry skillet over medium heat, cook the prosciutto slices for about 3 minutes, turning them once or twice, until the slices start to brown and become crisp. Transfer the slices to a cutting board and cut into bite-size pieces.
To serve, drain the figs, discarding the liquid. Divide the soup among shallow individual bowls. Garnish each with the fig quarters and prosciutto pieces.