Nothing screams summer more than ripe, fresh fruits in season. Sweet cherries, sour cherries, berries, melons, and peaches are available for the picking in our gardens, farms, and markets. Soups are a 'go-to' course that offer comfort to any meal. So, a refreshing and decadent way to merge the mouthwatering sweetness of the season with the comfort of soup in your summer menus is by preparing a chilled fruit soup. I can describe them in 10 words as ... creamy, smooth, sweet, tangy, refreshing, colorful, deliciously bursting fruit flavor!
Many of you may be familiar with the spicy, tomato-based chilled soup, Gazpacho, that originated in Andalusia, which I blogged about a few weeks ago. But most of you may not be as familiar with chilled fruit soups. In warm climates and in several European cuisines, chilled fruit soups are very popular on the hot sweltering days of summer. In Hungary, for example, fruit soups like cherry soup and peach soup are commonly served throughout their seasons. Although in some cultures they are reserved as a dessert, in Hungary, they are served as starters to a meal. To tingle your palate, they may even be prepared with a touch of wine, port, brandy, or the well-known Hungarian fruit brandy called pàlinka. While some recipes may suggest the use of frozen or canned fruits allowing for year-round preparation, in my opinion, the vibrancy of this delicious starter comes from the ripeness of a fruit that is fresh and in-season.
The bowls and soup tureens in the above photos are each Hungarian porcelains. The porcelain on the left with the peach soup is a Herend porcelain with the Victoria pattern. The porcelain on the right with the cherry soup is Kalocsa porcelain with a traditional folk-motif pattern. Both of them are hand-painted and made exclusively in Hungary in the respective towns of Herend and Kalocsa.
Hungarian Chilled Peach Soup Recipe
3 cups hot water
8 ripe peaches, pitted and diced
1/2 cup sugar
zest of one lemon
juice of one lemon
2 Tbsp cold water
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 cup medium-dry white wine
1/4 cup apricot brandy
1/2 cup heavy cream
fresh mint sprigs for garnish
peach slices for garnish
Combine hot water, diced peaches, sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Bring to a low boil. Cook about 8 minutes until peaches are tender.
Blend 2 Tbsp. cold water and flour together and then add to soup. Simmer 5 minutes on low.
Turn heat off. Process the mixture through a food mill to purée the peaches and remove skins. Stir in wine and brandy. Taste for sweetness. Cool to room temperature, then cover and chill in the refrigerator for 3 hours.
Stir in cream just before serving.
Plate and garnish with sprigs of mint and peach slices. Enjoy!
Hungarian Chilled Cherry Soup Recipe
2 lbs. ripe red cherries; pitted with pits reserved
1 cup water
1 cup Reisling, Gewürztraminer or other medium-dry white wine
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup kirsch
1 Tbsp. grated lemon zest
2 1/2 cups sour cream
fresh mint sprigs for garnish
In a large saucepan, combine the cherry pits, water, wine, sugar, and lemon juice over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and let steep for 5 more minutes. Pour the liquid through a strainer set inside a bowl. Discard the pits.
Pour the strained liquid into a pot. Add the pitted cherries to the strained liquid, reserving about a 1/3 cup for garnish. Place the reserved cherries into a small bowl, cover, and place them in the refrigerator. Over medium heat, bring the liquid back to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer gently, uncovered for 5 minutes.
In small batches, purée the mixture in a food mill to remove skins. Transfer to a mixing bowl and stir in the kirsch and the lemon zest. Let the soup cool to room temperature, then cover tightly and refrigerate until well chilled, about 3 hours.
Before serving, put 2 cups of sour cream in a tureen and whisk briefly to liquefy it slightly. then gradually whisk in the soup.
Plate and garnish with sprigs of mint, a dollop of sour cream, and some reserved fresh cherries. Enjoy!
Both of these chilled fruit soups taste delicious and present beautifully. They are very easy to make and offer a refreshing start to brunch, lunch, or dinner. I encourage you to give them a try, even if they sound foreign to you. You may discover something vibrant and new to add to your summer menu options ... especially when the season is bursting with ripe fruit!