Vin Santo stone fruit compote
How fun at the end of the summer to gather the best ripe stone fruits and a few others, shower them with a bottle of Vin Santo and simmer them together to a sweet perfection that you can then serve chilled in glass bowls. This to me is one of end of summer best treats.
It is a dish I grew up with (minus the Vin Santo) where it was called a fruit soup. It was customary in my family to have a jar of this fruit compote in the fridge and when unexpected company knocked on the door, my mother would offer a chilled glass of this compote to cool them off in the heat of the mediterranean summer. My mother used to include a few of the pits when cooking the compote to lend a savoury note to this otherwise sweet and tangy “soup”. She served it in a glass with a spoon.
I add a small bottle of Vin Santo (Holly Wine), an Italian (Tuscan) dessert wine made with Trebbiano and Malvasia or with Sangiovese for a more pink version. Vin Santo is made from grapes that have been harvested and dried on straw mats or dried by hanging on racks for a long period (3-6 months). After drying, the berries (grapes) are pressed and the must fermented. Depending on the brand, some Vin Santo are sweeter than others. I like adding it to the compote first for the flavour, but also because as with my mother’s compote, this wine is a welcoming wine offered to guests when they come for a visit. I combine the two traditions in this one special dish. Don’t worry about the alcohol, it evaporates during the cooking.
Use a variety of stone fruits: plums of all colours, apricots, peaches, nectarines etc. and add a few seedless grapes, red, black and green and whatever else you have to round it up. In goes a bottle of Vin Santo, water, sugar, juice of one lemon, a cinnamon stick and a few star anise (remove the cinnamon and star anise after cooking). Bring the mixture to a boil, lower heat and let it cook until the liquid is nice and syrupy. That is it.
Pour into jars and keep in the fridge until needed. It’s delicious chilled.
I serve the compote in glass bowls and garnish with a fragrant herb. I like a whiff of the herbal aroma as I enjoy the soup, even if the herb is not incorporated into the compote itself.
4-6 cups stone fruits and grapes (plums, apricots, peaches)
1 bottle Vin Santo
1 cup sugar or more to taste
Enough water to cover fruits by 2-3 inches
Juice of 1 lemon
1 cinnamon stick
3 star anise
Cut the fruits into 4-5 wedges each and place in a heavy pot (I use Le Creuset).
Add Vin Santo, sugar, water, lemon juice, cinnamon stick and star anise.
Bring to a boil, lower heat and cook partially covered for 15 minutes or so, until the juices become syrupy. Depending how juicy the fruits are, you may need top add more water, the end result should have plenty of juice.
Pour into mason jars and refrigerate until needed. This keeps well in the fridge.