A chilled soup to celebrate the strawberry moon

What a delight, to find that first, perfect sweet strawberry of the season. They have arrived, and berry season in my book marks the real beginning of summer. It’s a wonderful day when we can buy them by the pound and not the ounce. Or pick our own big box of them, even better.

Photos by Dorothy Grover-Read.
Strawberry soup is enhanced with the addition of a dry blueberry wine made right here in town. You can also use other dry red wines, or mix up the fruits with what is in season.
Photos by Dorothy Grover-Read. Strawberry soup is enhanced with the addition of a dry blueberry wine made right here in town. You can also use other dry red wines, or mix up the fruits with what is in season.

We’ve a world of possibilities. Strawberry shortcake? A must, of course. We’ll make jam, pies and strawberry scones. Perhaps some crêpes filled with lightly sugared sliced berries, or a decadent but easy strawberries romanoff. Rose and strawberry sangria?

But how about adding yet another local delight and create a chilled strawberry soup using wine from our area? We went to a wine tasting at the Charlotte Village Winery recently and sampled a unique wine made from blueberries rather than grapes. Although I expected sweet, the wine was dry and quite flavorful. It tasted like grapes.

My friend Ray gave me the basic recipe for the strawberry soup years ago, a perfect starter for a summer dinner. I added my own touches — the vanilla bean and black pepper — and created variations over time. You can also garnish with a plant-based yogurt, whipped cream, sour cream or even crème fraiche. Or, drizzle with a bit of balsamic vinegar.

His recipe called for a dry red like a merlot, and that’s how I usually make it. But I loved the idea of using a local blueberry wine with the berries, and it worked beautifully.

You can use any red you like, just keep it on the dry side since the rest of the soup ingredients are sweet. Next time, I’ll use the iapetus figure 3 from Shelburne Vineyard, a dry rosé with a lovely effervescence. So many wonderful wines from which to choose.

This chilled soup is fresh and delicious and really beautiful to look at as well. Perfect to serve when the strawberry moon looms above us next week, so invite some friends and celebrate the season. For a special touch, chill little clear glass bowls so that they are frosted when filled.

Summer soup of strawberries, wine

In a food processor or food mill, purée:

  • 1 quart of fresh strawberries
  • seeds from one split vanilla bean

Process until smooth and set aside.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • vanilla pod.

Bring to a boil and simmer until the sugar is dissolved, just a few minutes. Cool.
Once the syrup is cool, add it to the strawberries along with:

  • grated zest of a lemon
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • a few grinds of black pepper.

Refrigerate for at least an hour, along with 1 1/3 cup of your red wine of choice and your serving dishes, too.

When ready to serve, stir the wine into the berry mixture, fill the chilled bowls and swirl in a teaspoon or so of the yogurt or cream on top.

This soup is not as sweet as other berry soups because of the addition of the wine and the lower sugar count. Use this recipe with the same proportions for any number of summer berry and fruit soups. If you use blackberries or raspberries with really large seeds, you will want to strain the pureed mixture before continuing.

To make this non-alcoholic, simply use a tart cranberry juice rather than wine.

Peaches or apricots, when they are in season, combined with a dry white wine and cream are excellent. A mixed berry soup with a merlot, full of flavor. Even muskmelon and prosecco will delight.

Rose and strawberry sangria
There are strawberries, and rose bushes are dripping with color and fragrance. Put the two together, and you’ll have a refreshing summer drink.

Simple and tasty. Combine a bottle of rosé wine, 1/3 cup rose simple syrup (below), 1 cup strawberries, and 1/2 teaspoon of rose water in a large pitcher. Stir, add some ice, some lemon slices and chill for at least a few hours. Serve in chilled glasses garnished with a few rose petals.

Rose simple syrup: To make the rose simple syrup, combine 1 cup rose petals (organic, from your garden or begged from a friend’s, but nothing from the florist), 1 cup sugar, 1 cup water. Mix well and bring to a simmer until the sugar is dissolved. Let sit overnight, then strain and place in a bottle and refrigerate.