Sweet sipping


Fruit soups are more versatile than you might think. Served chilled, warm or hot, they're surprisingly good for breakfast or as a simple dessert or even a pick-me-up. And they make an unusual first course when the menu includes chicken, turkey or pork, all of which fruit complements.

Properly made with just enough sugar, these soups have a refreshing, fruity taste that's not too sweet. Their clear sheen and satisfying substance (thicker than a consomme, thicker than a bisque) come from using cornstarch or tapioca as a thickener. Flour gives fruit dishes a duller, more opaque finish and is a less reliable thickener for berries and other fruits high in acid.

Serve fruit soups in small portions -- unadorned or garnished with cream (plain or whipped), creme fraiche or plain yogurt -- in stemmed glasses or clear bowls to show off their jewel-like colors.

Peach slices add mellow sweetness to tart raspberry soup. Serve the dried fruit soup on a camping trip or for a cozy weekend breakfast.

Raspberry-Peach Soup

Makes 4 to 6 servings

3/4 cup water

1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar

1 large peach, peeled and thinly sliced

2 baskets (about 3 cups total) raspberries

1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons water

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon kirsch liqueur

In 3-quart saucepan, combine water and sugar. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add peach and boil gently for 2 minutes. Add raspberries and bring to a boil again; boil for 1 minute.

Blend in cornstarch mixture; bring again to a boil, stirring until thickened and clear. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice and liqueur. Serve hot or chilled.

Dried Fruit Soup

Makes 4 to 6 servings

1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca

3 cups water

grated zest and juice of 1 orange

1 cinnamon stick

pinch salt

2 (8-ounce) packages mixed dried fruits (about 3 cups)

In 3-quart saucepan, combine sugar, tapioca, water, orange zest and juice, cinnamon stick and salt, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add fruit and bring to a simmer.

Cover; cook, regulating heat to maintain gentle simmer, until fruits are plump and tender but still retain their shapes (20 to 25 minutes). Serve warm.

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