Something got my 3-year-old son on a silly soup rant. He ran through all the possibilities he considered most outrageous, laughing as he suggested we make car soup, beach soup, book soup, phone soup.
I stopped him. I liked the sound of that last one. He wasn't sure whether I was serious, so he tested. Blueberry soup? Yes, that might be good, too. But strawberry soup, that sounded yummy, cool and refreshing.
So we got into the kitchen and started playing. And in short order we discovered that strawberry soup really can be incredibly delicious. Here's what we learned.
Fresh strawberries are best, but out-of-season berries can be pretty scary looking, even if they are destined to be pureed. Frozen are a better choice for summerlong soups.
Even after they go through the blender, strawberry seeds tend to leave little crunchy bits behind in the soup. We liked the texture these gave the soup. Some people won't; they should run the puree through a mesh strainer.
To work in soup, strawberries need a foil, otherwise you end up with a smoothie. Fresh ginger was perfect. It has savory notes but also is a great friend of sugar.
Since a soup needs liquid, we decided to one-step the ginger and "broth" issue by using one of a growing number of natural ginger "beers" ginger ales that rely on real ginger for assertive flavor.
To accent the strawberry and ginger flavors, we garnished with a puree of fresh mint and heavy cream. It's hard to go wrong with berries, cream and fresh mint. But the soup is delicious even without this flourish.My son was proud of his creation. But I assured him, I wouldn't be attempting car soup any time soon.
GINGER STRAWBERRY SOUP
Start to finish: 10 minutes
Two 10-ounce bags frozen strawberries, thawed
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
12-ounce bottle ginger beer
1 tablespoon minced fresh mint, plus whole leaves for garnish
1/2 cup heavy cream
In a blender, combine the strawberries, sugar, vanilla, and lemon zest and juice. Puree until smooth. Add the ginger beer and run on smooth until just mixed.
Transfer the soup to serving bowls, then rinse and dry the blender.
In the blender, combine the minced mint, heavy cream and milk. Puree until smooth and the mint is well blended into the cream. Do no blend for too long; you don't want the cream to become whipped.
Transfer the cream mixture to a condiment bottle or small pitcher and pour in a decorative pattern over the soup. Garnish each bowl with whole fresh mint leaves.
Nutrition information per serving: 193 calories; 51 calories from fat; 6 g fat (4 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 22 mg cholesterol; 35 g carbohydrate; 2 g protein; 3 g fiber; 23 mg sodium.