Fruit soup: Cool relief in hot weather




August is a soupy month. But relief from the humid, sticky weather is only a bowl of chilled fruit soup away.

There are two basic ways to capture the essence of fruit in a bowl. The first is to simply puree the ripest summer produce and thicken with a little yogurt, cream or buttermilk. The other way is to make a “broth,” usually a simple sugar syrup, and float sliced fruit in it the same way vegetables bob in a chunky minestrone.

Most fruit soups can be made a day in advance, then served as a starter, an intermezzo (a breather between courses) or a light dessert.

And if you really want to be cool, ditch the Wheaties and wake up to a bowl of fruit soup.

SOUP OF RED FRUITS


Makes 4 to 6 servings.

8 ounces cherries, stems and pits removed and reserved

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup water

2 cups strawberries, cored and halved (or quartered if very large)

1 cup blueberries

1 cup raspberries

3 tablespoons lemon juice

Mint leaves, for garnish

To cook cherries: Crack cherry pits by smacking them lightly with hammer or bottom of saucepan. (Note: You don’t need to pulverize them, just expose their centers.) Place in saucepan with stems, sugar and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium. Cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Cool slightly. Strain out pits and stems. Return liquid to saucepan. Add cherries. Cook over medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes, or until cherries are quite tender. Chill, either over bowl of ice water or in refrigerator. (Note: You may prepare recipe in advance up to this point; refrigerate in covered container for up to 1 day.)

To make soup: Place berries in bowl. Pour cherries and their juices over them. Add lemon juice. Garnish with mint leaves. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 1 day. (Note: Mixture will become soupier the longer it sits.)

SUMMER STRAWBERRY SOUP


Makes 4 servings.

1 pint (2 cups) fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered

1/3 cup sugar

2 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

3 cups plain low-fat yogurt or buttermilk

2 teaspoons orange liqueur, such as Grand Marnier or Triple Sec

1/4 teaspoon finely grated orange zest

1/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

1 tablespoon finely shredded fresh mint leaves

Thinly sliced strawberries, for garnish

To make soup: Place quartered strawberries, sugar and vinegar in blender. Puree. Strain into large mixing bowl. Stir in yogurt, Grand Marnier and orange and lemon zests. Refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight until well chilled.

To serve: Just before serving, stir in mint. Ladle soup into chilled soup bowls. Garnish with sliced strawberries. Serve immediately.

CHILLED HONEYDEW-LIME SOUP


Makes 4 to 6 servings.

1 large honeydew melon (about 2 pounds), halved and seeded

1/2 cup thawed frozen limeade concentrate

1 cup dry sparkling white wine or champagne

Fresh mint sprigs, for garnish

To make soup: Using melon baller, scoop out enough balls from honeydew to make 1 cup. Reserve them for garnish. Peel and cut remaining flesh into 1-inch cubes. (Note: There should be about 3 1/2 cups.) Place honeydew cubes and limeade in blender or food processor. Puree. Transfer to large mixing bowl. Stir in sparkling wine. Cover. Chill for at least 2 hours.

To serve: Ladle soup into chilled bowls. Garnish each serving with honeydew balls and mint sprig. Serve immediately.

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