Monday, May 27, 2013

market day special: strawberry-rhubarb soup

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.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Soup
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

suggested garnishes:
whipped cream
mint or basil
toasted almonds
balsamic vinegar

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.

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