I volunteer at the Headhouse Farmer's Market, one of my favorite places to be on a Sunday morning in Philadelphia. The volunteer stand is directly across from one of the vegetable stands, and I have spent the past three weeks staring at a table heaped high with asparagus, lettuces, string beans, pints of strawberries and stacks of tart rhubarb. I brought an armful of rhubarb stalks home with me last week and made a pie, and with my leftover rhubarb, I started a compote. Misreading and ignoring directions galore from multiple recipes, I ended up with a liquid-full substance that refused to gel. But it was delicious. Really, really delicious. And so, I turned it into soup. This can be either a sweet first course or a cool dessert for a warm spring night.
makes 4 larger bowls or 8 smaller ramekins
the soup ingredients:
8-10 stalks of rhubarb (about 4 cups), diced into half-inch pieces
1 pint of strawberries (2 generous cups), sliced
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
zest and juice from an orange
3/4 cup of water
mint or basil
Mix all of the ingredients together, except for the water. Let the strawberries and rhubarb soak up the sugar for about 30-40 minutes, tossing occasionally. After a good long soak, add water and turn the heat on. Bring the mixture to a boil, then let it simmer for 10 minutes, turn off the heat, and let it cool. Once cool, either use an immersion blender or a food processor to mix the soup. Strain through a sieve if you don't like finding chunks of strawberry seeds in your soup, or not for a homier consistency. Serve the soup either chilled or at room temperature with the garnish of your choice - I choose homemade whipped cream and cinnamon every time. Sip slowly and savor spring turning into summer.