It’s cherry season and needless to say cherries are important guests in my kitchen right now. Cherry tarts, cherry calfouti, cherry pie, cherry jam, cherry sauce, you name it, they have been here. Unfortunately, I don’t always have time to photograph them before serving so not all are on the blog quite yet, but it’s coming. Fruit soups are also in my repertoire and when my friend called to say that she had a fabulous cherry soup with basil at one of the wineries (was it Mission Hill Barb?) I loved the idea of a savoury garnish (pesto) and immediately set to work on a recipe and came up with this one. You can serve this warm or chilled as a refreshing soup at lunch or dinner or fill little verrines or shot glasses with the soup and serve as a little appetizer sip when you have company.
4 cups cherries, pitted
1 cup water
1 cup red wine
2 tablespoons sugar
Pit the cherries using a cherry pitter gadget, there are many on the market. It’s a good idea to put on a pair of kitchen gloves to protect your hands from staining. The cherries do not have to be perfect as you will puree them once they are cooked.
Place pitted cherries, water, wine and sugar in a 2 quart pot and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a slow boil and cook for about 20-25 minutes partially covered. The cherries should be soft and the alcohol mostly evaporated but still plenty of liquid will remain. Let cool in the pot to just above room temperature.
Transfer the cherries and liquid to a blender and blend until very smooth. You could pass it now through a food mill if you want it silky smooth but for me just a blender is fine.
That’s it, the soup is ready, just taste to correct the flavour with a little sugar, lemon juice or salt if required.
To make the basil-mint pesto:
3 cups basil leaves
1 cup mint leaves
1 clove garlic
3/4 cup olive oil
Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until a smooth paste is reached.
Remove about 1/2 cup to garnish the soup and keep the rest in the fridge for another time.
If you want a creamy pesto then add a couple of tablespoon cream to the quantity you will be using for the soup.
To serve the soup:
Pour the soup into a measuring cup so it is easier to pour. It can splash so be careful with your clothes and table linen.
Gently pour the soup into serving bowls or cups and then spoon some of the pesto into each bowl in a pretty pattern.
Serve warm or chilled.