When the final days of warm weather begin to alternate with autumn chill, it makes you appreciate that warmer weather, and celebrate it. I’ll do a casual survey, thinking of all of the summer specialties I haven’t scored yet this season, to make good use of my last hours. I’ve had far too few fresh tomatoes this summer - how could that happen? Amusement park? Check. Boating on the lake? Check. Long-smoked meat barbeque? Check. Camping? Not yet. Fishing? No. And then there’s the family tradition: cold cherry soup. Haven’t had that one yet.
This recipe comes from my grandmother, who spent the first half of her life in central Germany, living in the apartment above her family’s butcher shop so I assume its roots are there. When I googled "cold fruit soup,” my first hit was here, on a recipe for “Kaltschale.” This recipe is nearly identical to my grandma’s! So thanks for the verification, Karen, self-identified “German in America.”
The soup is amazingly simple, utilizing canned sour cherries, thus saving the labor of pitting fresh ones. Of course, I have tried this out with fresh sour cherries I lovingly/exhaustedly pitted. As a proud scratch cook, I scoffed at the idea of using canned when fresh is available. Is it good that way? Of course! But it’s pretty good with the canned ones, too. It has always been served as an appetizer or main course, not a dessert, its garnet sheen beautiful, dappled with ruby orbs, strikingly topped with a stark white dollop of meringue.
The unsung hero of the soup is tapioca pearls, which serve double duty: thickening the liquid and contributing a second solid textural element. The soup is made with sour cherries, whose flavor is typically more dynamic than their sweet cousins, but admittedly a good measure of white sugar is added in, as well as lemon juice. The sweet/sour effect is brilliant in summer heat. Those tastes propel each other, as we discuss at The Chopping Block in the Flavor Dynamics section of our Culinary Boot Camp class. (We are also offering Flavor Dynamics on Saturday, October 22 at 10am at Lincoln Square.) It is amazingly refreshing. Try it this way or substitute another fruit. I have some last summer peaches nearby that I may need to experiment with in the next couple of days.
Cold Cherry Soup
Scroll down for a printable version of this recipe
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Inactive time: 1 hour
Total time: 1.5 hours
2 cans sour pitted cherries (14 oz cans)
3 cans water
1 stick cinnamon
1 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup tapioca pearls (not instant)
1/8 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup of sugar, more or less to taste
2 egg whites, room temperature
1. Combine the cherries, water, cinnamon, and lemon in a 4-quart pot.
2. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer.
3. Add the tapioca pearls. Simmer until the soup is clear and the tapioca is mostly translucent and only its core is still white. It will finish hydrating off the heat.
4. Add sugar to taste. I ended up adding a cup. Keep in mind that flavors dull when chilled down, so be prepared to adjust the flavors after cooling.
5. Add lemon juice and vanilla. Remove cinnamon stick.
7. Just before serving, put your egg whites and a pinch of salt in a bowl. They will whip better if not super cold, so leave them out of the fridge for an hour. Also, make sure your bowl and beaters are completely clean. Using a hand mixer, or simply your muscles and a whisk, whip until the whites are a stiff meringue which holds its shape.
8. Ladle into bowls and dollop with meringue.
This cold soup celebrates the end of warmer weather but we have these upcoming soup classes to welcome fall:
- Virtual Seafood Cioppino Friday, October 28 6pm CST
- Virtual Soup and Stew Workshop Saturday, October 29 10am CST