By Edith Morgan
We think of soups as a winter comfort food, steaming hot, full of nutritious flavors, with vegetables and meats all cooked together, and eaten with sandwiches , toast or crackers. But as I was reminiscing about my (very long-ago) childhood, I remembered my mother making what she called cold or summer soup. It usually involved a fruit puree – strawberries, blueberries, raspberries or whatever berries were in season – and a small amount of sugar (honey can be used as a healthy sweetener in these days of diabetes and obesity), or it could be omitted entirely, as some of the fruits are quite sweet enough in their natural state, when really ripe.
The soup was also, I suspect, a great way to use up fruit that was already a bit too ripe but not yet so far gone as to have to make it to the compost heap.
I searched various media, as well as my old cookbooks and magazines but could not find a generic “fruit soup” recipe l. Finally, in a very yellowed cookbook that my mother’s sister Grete ( short for Margarete) had sent her from Germany in 1948. The booklet, published in 1948, and entitled “Mit Verstand und Liebe” (With Understanding and Love) listed a category called Wine and Beer Soups, Fruit Soups, and Cold Dishes.
For the strawberry cold soup…
1.use one pound fresh strawberries, add sugar, and let them sit for one hour.
2. pour one liter apple juice or rhubarb juice over the strawberries,
3. sweeten to taste
4 let sit in refrigerator until ready to use.
At the time this book was written, widespread use of blenders had not yet begun. So I would put it all in a blender and puree it. Nowadays we create these fruit drinks and call them “Smoothies”! So today we have much more opportunity to be creative with these summer dishes.
My mother decorated these soups with little “islands” of beaten egg white – nowadays we can no longer do that, as the egg whites would be uncooked. But we can substitute “Cool Whip” or even real whipped cream. Sweeten with a little sugar, perhaps a drop of vanilla or rum – just to add extra flavor.
Another great summer treat is flan!
If you are in a hurry, there are packages, either flan or caramel custard, ready to cook.
If not, here is a Mexican, Southwest U.S. version…
1 ¾ cups sugar divided
1 tablespoon water
3 egg whites
8 egg yolks
2 large cans evaporated milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
To make the caramel, combine 1 cup of sugar and the tablespoon of water. Heat until it melts and becomes golden brown (stir constantly with wooden spoon. Swirl the caramel around in the pan you will use for the flan, and let it cool.
To make the custard, beat the remaining ingredients well, and pour them into the carameled pan.
Cover it and place it into a larger pan containing one inch of water.
Bake at 350 degrees for one hour.
When done turn the custard onto a serving dish (the caramel will be on top) – cover and refrigerate for several hours.
Again, this dish tastes great with whipped cream on top – and perhaps a mint leaf for garnish….