Chilled Blueberry Soup with Angelfood Cake Croutons
Sunday, August 3, 2014
So, I got to step out of my kitchen today to share some ideas for using fresh berries in every day cooking over on Missy Maki’s (otherwise known as Mrs. Maki Cooks) Portland, OR area radio show Simple Kitchen. And what fun I had with Missy, Fabi (from Not Just Baked) and Brandie (she of Spoon and Saucer) talking about berries, summer…and girl bands.
Have you ever experienced a moment when you find yourself among ‘your people’? You know, the ones who are just as passionate as you are about something and who all share just a little bit of your special brand of crazy in a way that makes you realize that sometimes paths cross for a reason? This was my first time meeting Missy (though I felt like I already knew her by listening to her show and following her (in a social-media-not-a-creepy-stalker way)). I love how passionate she is about food, cooking and celebrating all of the great things about being in the Portland area. (Plus her stream of consciousness way of chatting is refreshing and real, so gotta love that). While Brandie, Fabi and I have hung out a bit, every time I see them I am reminded that it’s not nearly as often as I’d like! They are seriously smart, inspiring, and fun….exactly the type of people we should all be fortunate to surround ourselves with.
Ok, so…ever been berry picking? I have to admit, I have not picked berries in a very long time (well, if you don’t count the blackberries I pluck off of the wild bushes that line the walking trail by my house). I always plan to get out and get up to my elbows in fresh blueberries, blackberries or raspberries, but somehow the season passes me by every year, which is so disappointing since there are few things better than plucking a berry from a bush, still warm from the sun, and popping it in your mouth. Seriously, sometimes you get one that tastes like a spoonful of jam.
So. Freakin’. Good.
When berries are in season, they are at their most sweet, which means less sugar needed for your favorite recipes. I can get on board with that. And since I don’t think giving up dessert has to be part of our effort to eat healthier, there’s nothing better than using fresh in-season ingredients to make simple, delicious, beautiful desserts. (Ok, well, you probably shouldn’t eat dessert every day–it’s all about the 90/10 rule, which is this: as long as 90% of what you eat is healthy, real and good for you food, the other 10% is for you to have fun with).
One of the things I am hearing over and over from friends is that they want to pick or buy fruit when it’s in season, but when they get it home, they really aren’t sure what to do with it (let’s face it, there are just so many strawberries you can eat before you start to long for the arrival of apple season). So, it was in that spirit that today’s ‘what to do with fresh berries’ show came about. And the timing couldn’t have been better. One of the dangers of berry picking? Not knowing when to stop! It’s like if Nordstrom said to you, “ok, here’s a giant box, give me $20 and we’ll let you go over to the shoe department and pile as many shoes as you can fit/carry into that box”.
Would you know when to stop? Now imagine doing this with something as perishable as fresh berries.
Yea, it’s totally like that.
Have I mentioned that it’s been nearly 90-degrees every day here for over a week? I’m totally not complaining since the New England girl in me LOVES to be warm and toasty, so the longer (and warmer) the summer is, all the better as far as I’m concerned. This chilled soup idea came to mind as I was thinking about coming up with something that would be simple to make, quick and easy to serve, transportable and would require minimal cooking (because, well, 90 degrees). This one was a little outside of my norm in terms of dessert (I’m baked goods kind of girl), although it’s pretty healthy, very low fat and gluten free, so I’m totally down with that. I did use honey, so it’s not vegan, so if you’re a purist, you could substitute the honey with whatever your go-to is.
(Mini rant alert!); am I the only one who has to constantly remind myself that honey is not vegan, as I did with this recipe as I patted myself on the back for coming up with this amazing vegan creation by using coconut water and almond milk instead of milk, cream and yogurt? I mean, aren’t honey bees happy that we partake of, even celebrate, their sweet handy work?). End of rant.
If you’ve never had chilled fruit soup, you’re in for a treat. Not only is it super simple to make, it’s a great way to use a lot of berries in one recipe. Plus, it’s perfect for entertaining since it’s somewhat unusual, easy to make ahead of time and just so darn pretty. And, if you’re just learning how to cook more fresh and healthy food, this is a great way to get creative. Try using a different berry. Leave out the booze (or use a different type). Use low fat milk and yogurt instead of the almond milk. Oh, and a great tip for anytime you’re working with fruit, be sure to taste it first to gauge how much sweetness you should add to the recipe. The blueberries I used were really sweet, so I probably could have gone with even less honey than the recipe calls for. It may take a little practice, but as you get more comfortable in your healthy cooking repertoire, you’ll eventually find yourself thinking “you know what would be amazing in this?”….. Seriously it will happen, just keep at it!
Chilled Blueberry Soup with Angelfood Cake Croutons
servings: 4 dessert sized servings | time: about 10 minutes plus at least 2 hours to chill
2 cups fresh blueberries
2/3 cup coconut water (or just water)
1/3 cup honey
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp, fresh lemon juice
2 tsp. grated lemon rind
2 TBSP. St. Germaine or other elderflower liqueur (optional)
1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
4 thin slices angelfood cake (gluten free if needed), cubed into 1/4 inch pieces
1. Place the blueberries, coconut water, honey, cinnamon and salt in a saucepan and cook over medium high heat until the blueberries burst (about 10 minutes). Transfer to a bowl and allow to come to room temperature
2. Add the lemon juice, grated lemon rind, and liqueur (if using)
3. Place the blueberry mixture in a blender and blend on high for one minute until the mixture becomes smooth
4. Turn the blended on low and slowly add the almond milk. Turn the blender to high and blend for 1-2 minutes, until very smooth
5. Place in a glass bowl and chill for at least 2 hours or overnight
6. Make the angelfood cake croutons: heat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray and spread the cubed angelfood cake in a single layer. Bake for 6-8 minutes until deep golden brown (keep an eye on them during the last couple of minutes). Turn the oven off and leave the croutons in until the oven is completely cooled
To serve: pour soup into bowls and top with a few croutons