Strawberry Soup with Whipped Cream
Serves 4 – 6
1 quart excellent, beautifully-ripe strawberries
1 teaspoon superfine sugar, plus more if needed
Freshly-squeezed lemon juice
1 large orange
1 teaspoon (or more) Crème de Cassis
4-6 mint leaves, depending on size and taste
2 tablespoons sour cream, very cold
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream, very cold
Equipment: A large bowl big enough to hold ice, a smaller bowl that will fit inside the bigger bowl filled with ice, a food mill fitted with the fine disk, or an immersion blender.
Fill the large bowl with cold water. One at a time, dip the strawberries in the water to rinse, then set them on a plate lined with paper towels to dry a little. Carefully hull the strawberries, cut them in half, and place them in a different bowl. Toss gently with the teaspoon of superfine sugar and let the strawberries sit for a half hour to soften.
Once they’ve softened a bit, puree the strawberries in the food mill or use the immersion blender. If you’re using the immersion blender, do short pulses and make sure the head of the blender is completely immersed in the strawberries — you don’t want to add air into them. Empty the large bowl and fill it with ice. Scrape the strawberry puree into the small bowl that fits inside the larger ice-filled bowl. Add a half-teaspoon of lemon juice to the strawberry puree.
At this point you have to start tasting and adding what’s necessary. The puree will be pretty thick and you want the soup to be, well, more like soup in the end. Juice half the orange and add it, a tablespoon at a time, to the puree until it gets to the consistency you like. You can juice the other half of the orange and add it if you like. Add the teaspoon of Crème de Cassis. Taste it for sweetness. If you’d like it a little sweeter, take out 1/4 cup of the mixture and add a teaspoon of superfine sugar to it, stir to dissolve, then add it to the rest. Add more lemon juice if you think it needs a little zip, or more Crème de Cassis (you don’t want to taste the liqueur per se, but the Cassis makes the soup seem richer).
When the soup tastes the way you want it to, put the bowl in the ice-filled bowl and let it chill for a half hour. Using a mixer, beat the cream and the sour cream together with about a tablespoon of confectioners’ sugar until the cream makes soft peaks. Then chop the mint leaves very finely and stir them into the soup. (The mint leaves can turn brown if they’re left too long.)
Serve the soup in balloon glasses (stemless balloon wine glasses are perfect for this), top with the whipped cream, and serve immediately.