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5.7.12

HUNGARIAN CHERRY SOUP – CSERESZNYELEVES


Chilled sour cherry soup or meggyleves is a traditional summertime treat/refreshment in Hungary. We used to have a prolific sour cherry tree in our backyard, but to my dismay, my darling cut it out one year and replaced it with a sweet cherry tree. I have to admit we have more uses for the sweet cherries, but there are times when I regret the loss of the one available source of sour cherries. I now make chilled cherry soup, the taste of course is different, but you have to add less sugar so that is at least one thing in the sweet cherry’s favour. You can use fresh or frozen cherries, but never canned. You can make this soup with heavy cream and fresh lemon juice, or with sour cream. If you use sour cream [use the same amount as the cream], just omit the lemon juice. I prefer to make it with cream and lemon juice and then serve the chilled soup with a dollop of sour cream. Since my darling prefers hot soups, I make this only once a year. Like so many Hungarian specialties, this is lovely. Hungarians eat this as a soup and not as a dessert. This recipe makes exactly two servings.

2 cups water
1/2 cinnamon stick
2 whole cloves
1/2 tsp lemon zest
2 cups fresh sweet cherries, stems removed
[Use only 2/3 cup if pitted]
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup whipping cream
1 Tbsp flour
1/4 cup cherry or red wine [optional]

• Place 2 cups of cold water in a saucepan and add the spices and the lemon zest.
• Bring to the simmer and cover the pot.
• Cook the spices for ten minutes.
• Meanwhile wash and select 2 cups of blemish free cherries.
• Remove the stems only. Leave the pits in.
• Strain the liquid, discarding the spices.
• Pour the strained liquid back into the pot.
• Add the cherries, sugar, and the lemon juice.
• Bring to a gentle boil and simmer the cherries for 3 minutes.
• Meanwhile in a small bowl whisk together the flour and the whipping cream. Use a small balloon whisk, so no lumps remain in the mixture. If you don’t have a small balloon whisk, strain the mixture.
• Add a little hot soup to the cream mixture and stir.
• Then pour it back into the soup and stir.
• Turn the heat off under the pot and cover immediately.
• Keep the lid on for a couple of minutes. There will be sufficient heat left inside the pot to cook the flour.
• Remove the lid and add 1/4 cup of sherry or red wine, but this is optional.
• Replace the lid and let the soup cool down with the lid on.
• Chill the soup in the refrigerator thoroughly.
• Serve the cherry soup very cold with a dollop of full fat sour cream and provide a little bowl for the pits.

8 comments:

  1. Now this is different. I like different. Somehow when I'd read Cherry Soup, I expected something savoury. I guess this is dessert!

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  2. not a dessert, soup -- so it is different :-)

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  3. In Poland a similar soup is served (with sour cherries too if I remember and without cream), but since people tend to add pasta to it, I never liked it. I did love drinking the soup and eating the fruit though :-) I miss sour cherries a lot.... here only the very early, light red and very acid variety is available and very difficult to find. The dark, ripe sour cherries are one of my favourite fruits and apart from the frozen imported from Serbia I haven't had them fresh for years.
    It's very interesting what you say about the use of sweet cherries because for me, if I have a choice between sour and sweet, the latter are only better eaten fresh. They don't have this exciting tanginess and deep flavour, they are not as juicy...

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  4. Sista Zsuzsa, of all the Hungarian food blogs, yours is the only one that brings me right back to my grandmother, and my mother's kitchen. Yours is the only one that has all the forgotten childhood memories along with the favorite dishes!

    Just to give you an example, your cherry soup gave me a "flashback" at the age of 7...yes, I do remember that magic number. I was sitting on my grandmother's kitchen steps, that led directly from outside. For some reason, they had a separate entrance just to their kitchen, and another entrance to the house...she brought me a bowl of sweet cherry soup, and let me eat it right there, because she totally catered to her grandchildren, and said that I was her favorite! (sigh, now it makes me cry)

    I don't recall tasting cinnamon, or lemon juice, just know that it was the most heavenly cold soup that tasted like a dessert!
    Thanks for sharing your delicious recipe, which is on my "to do list"

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  5. I wished I could have had sour cherries, sweet cherries go apart rather quickly. Plus they taste different. This is a soup that tastes like a dessert. But then there are many sweet meals in Hungarian cuisine. All those memories we have of food and love and food...

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  6. oh i'm so excited for this recipe. we planted a sour cherry tree this year. we'll see how it does in calgary. hopefully next year i can pick some and when we come to bc i can always bring you some Zsuzsa :)

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  7. It takes a few years before the tree starts producing. If you remember, let me know when you have it Agi. Who knows, I could be cooking for a few more years yet.

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  8. This was a staple in my childhood home when I was growing up. My SIL still requests it for all the holiday dinners. I once made it for a professor when I was going to university and he exclaimed "Oooooh, dessert for dinner!" He was dutch!
    Because we made this mainly during the holidays, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter, we never had fresh cherries so my Mom adapted recipe to use the preserved cherries in a light syrup (not canned, they are in a bottle), mostly from Poland but recently I found a great batch from Hungary. The syrup is not as sweet and the cherries are indeed sour, so it makes an excellent combo. I use fat free Greek yogurt and I never add cream (because we try to eat healthy).

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I began to post recipes for my family and it turned out to be a work in progress. "zsuzsa is in the kitchen" has over 900 recipes of Hungarian and international recipes. My recipes are organized into a cookbook format. On top of the page click on the cookbook to get access to all my recipes. If I ever figure out how to add a printer friendly gadget I will add it. In the meantime feel free to cut and paste. Happy cooking!

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