Chilled Strawberry Soup with Crème Fraîche

June 28, 2011
By Holly Jennings

It’s strawberry season, and flyers for strawberry dinners, held at local churches, can be seen around town. The only thing strawberry at these dinners, however, is the dessert—usually homemade strawberry shortcake. This recipe, from Dairy Hollow House Soup & Bread by Crescent Dragonwagon, is meant to be served at the start of the meal, the perfect bookend to all of those sweet strawberry desserts. Crescent Dragonwagon, a great writer (who also teaches food writing, by the way) describes the soup as “. . . a little sweet, a little on the tea-roomish, prissy side—but no less delicious for that.” It’s hard to top that. I would add that how sweet or tart to make it is up to you, and that serving it with the same rosé you used to make it an excellent idea. They go wonderfully well together. For the best tasting soup, and drinking enjoyment, try to find a good quality rosé with a balance of dry and sweeter fruit flavors.

One final note: It’s fun, and kind of deviant, to eat something with such a playful, innocent, childlike color (bubble gum came to my mind), but with very adult flavors—especially when enjoyed with alternating sips of wine. After all, it’s not every day that you eat pink food, and certainly not if you’re past the age of fourteen.

Serves 4 to 6 as a starter

1½ cups rosé wine
¼ cup thawed frozen apple juice concentrate
1 to 2 tablespoons honey, or to taste
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons raspberry or strawberry vinegar, or to taste
1 tablespoon grenadine syrup
2 tablespoons kirsch (I used Heering cherry liqueur)
4 cups fresh strawberries
1 cup crème fraîche or plain yogurt
½ cup half-and-half or evaporated skim milk
Unsweetened whipped cream or additional crème fraîche, for garnish
Fresh mint leaves, for garnish

1. In a large nonreactive saucepan (stainless steel or enameled), bring the wine, apple juice concentrate, and honey to a boil. Lower the heat and let simmer for a few minutes. In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch, vinegar, and grenadine together until smooth, then whisk into the simmering liquid. Cook, whisking gently, until clear, smooth, and thick. (Crescent Dragonwagon says this happens almost immediately; I found it took a minute or so. In any case, it happens quickly.) Stir in the kirsch and remove from the heat. Taste for a balance of sweet and tart; you don’t want it too sweet, or too tart. Add more honey or vinegar, if necessary. Set aside to cool.

2. Set aside 4 to 6 perfect strawberries for the garnish—one for each serving. Hull all of the remaining strawberries, slice half of them, and in a food processor, purée the remaining half. Add the strawberry purée, crème fraîche or yogurt, and the half-and-half to the saucepan with the thickened wine; whisk well to completely combine. Stir in the sliced strawberries. Chill deeply.

3. Serve in glass cups or cocktail glasses and garnish each serving with a dab of whipped cream or additional crème fraîche, a mint leaf, and a strawberry.

(Above recipe is from Dairy Hollow House Soup & Bread: A Country Inn Cookbook by Crescent Dragonwagon.)

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