Here at Capital Spice HQ, we like to wade knee-deep in the season’s bounty and use it to guide or recipes. Mint growing out of control? Oh tragedy, looks like mojitos are on deck. Have a case of the basil overload? Sounds like the perfect excuse to go crazy with caprese and pesto. And I don’t need any recipe to tell me how to eat cherries, which are perfect just the way nature delivers them.
When Mike’s parents drove down from New Jersey this week, we knew we had another summer harvest in spades: fresh blueberries. Much like pinkie rings and fist-pumping, you just don’t F around with New Jersey when it comes to blueberries. Once these little antioxidant bombs come into season, those in the know hightail it to pick-your-own farms where thimble-sized berries can be had for a song. We knew immediately that a bounty of Jersey blueberries were headed for our front door. But what to do with the plethora?
Blueberry soup is perhaps not the first thing I’d think of when considering a blueberry-based recipe. I don’t know that it would even make the top ten (although 6 out of those ten would probably be variations on some kind of cocktail, so that list is pretty skewed). Mike and I came across the recipe when thumbing through From the Earth to the Table, one of our never-fail cookbooks. It looked healthy and easy – critical criteria for us these days. We were intrigued.
Commonly found in the cuisine of those strapping Scandinavians (or, Scandi Candy), fruit-based soups provide a light meal in the dead heat of summer. The trick to preparing them is balance. In many cases, the natural sugars from the fruit – especially if the fruit is cooked – can deliver an over the top sweetness more appropriate to dessert. With this soup, the blueberries require some additional sweetness to overcome their natural tart flavors. Chef Ash brings natural sugars with honey to sweeten the berries but keeps the flavors complex with earthy cloves, red wine, cinnamon, and herbs. The original recipe paired the soup with lavender, but Mike’s allergy to the herb led us to rosemary instead.
Recipe after the jump!
A note on the creme fraiche: I usually consider additions like this a garnish for those who really need a small blast of fat to massage their tastebuds into enjoying a dish. In this case, I’d say the dollop of fatty cream is really key. We found it really softened the edges of the soup, transforming it from the slightly tart soup to something more robust.
2 quarts fresh or quick frozen blueberries
1 cup of dry red wine
1 1/2 cups of water
6 tablespoons fragrant honey
1/4 cup frozen orange juice concentrate
1 1/2 tablespoons rosemary (Other herbs and spices can be substituted here but keep in mind the balance of the soup – not too sweet, not too tart.)
zest and juice of 1 large lemon
one cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
to garnish: creme fraiche, whole blueberries, mint sprigs