As we head into the dog days of summer, you’ll want something simple to make that’s cool and refreshing. There is nothing like a fruit soup, which is traditional in Scandinavia but less common here. For complexity, add some pickled berries. The tangy berries balance the naturally sweet strawberry soup.
Strawberry soup with pickled blueberries is a versatile dish. Add a bit more sparkling wine and omit the sweetened yogurt and you have a refreshing aperitif. Serve as a first course or dessert. You’ll find yourself digging for more pickled blueberries as you reach the bottom of the bowl.
Pickles of all sorts have become trendy. Earlier this year, I took a class with chef Edward Lee and food writer Darra Goldstein in Louisville, Kentucky. I left inspired to start making fruit pickles. I was familiar with pickled watermelon rind, but chef Lee’s red watermelon pickles were a revelation.
Fruit pickles are a snap to make. They only need to cure overnight and are meant to be consumed within a week or two. Blueberry pickles last longer than strawberry pickles, which begin to lose their color after a week.
Don’t toss out the vinegar when the berry pickles are gone. Use in vinaigrettes or to brighten the taste of a dish.
Chef Demo: The chef of Contimo Provisions will demonstrate a recipe for the Contimo BLT at the Napa Farmers’ Market on Saturday, August 12, at 11 a.m. Demonstrations are free and recipes will be provided.
Serve this soup as a starter or dessert. The recipe makes more sweetened yogurt than you will need. Use the remainder for topping berries or muesli.
1/2 pound ripe strawberries, hulled 1 tablespoon sugar 1 teaspoon lemon juice 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract Pink sparkling wine such as Mumm’s Pinch of sea salt 1 cup whole-milk European-style plain yogurt Honey to taste Blueberry pickles (see recipe below)
Place the strawberries in a blender container. Add the sugar, lemon juice, vanilla, sparkling wine and salt. Blend until smooth. Strain the puree through a fine sieve into a bowl. Cover and chill thoroughly.
Whisk the yogurt with honey to taste. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
To serve, divide the soup among 4 cups or stemmed glasses. Add a swirl of sweetened yogurt and top with blueberry pickles.
These will last up to one week in the refrigerator. Use them as an accompaniment to roasted or grilled chicken or pork. Or serve with pâté in place of cornichons.
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 vanilla bean
1 cinnamon stick
1/8 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
8 ounces blueberries
In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, water, sugar, vanilla bean, cinnamon stick, peppercorns and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat.
Put the blueberries in a sterilized pint jar. Pour the hot vinegar mixture over the berries, cover with the lid and refrigerate for 24 hours before using.
Makes 1 pint