Sunday, July 20, 2008

M is for Meggyleves

M is for meggyleves, Hungarian cold cherry soup.* I first had this refreshing summer delicacy at the Hungarian Pastry Shop opposite the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in NYC. It's associated with happy times.

Some Plurkistas asked for a recipe. There are many versions, both traditional and modernmine may make some purists cringe, but then again Hungarian culture is such a fascinating melange that perhaps true Magyars won't mind. Enjoy!


Hungarian Cold Cherry Soup

1 quart sour cherries
1 quart water or red wine
½ - ¾ cup sugar
optional stewing spice: 2 lemon slices with 1 clove stuck in each one

1 Tablespoon cornstarch
2 Tablespoons water

optional flavorings:
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or ½ tsp almond extract
juice of 1 lemon
up to ½ cup Kirschwasser or Amaretto

1 cup sour cream or sweet cream or vanilla yogurt

Wash, stem, and pit the cherries. Simmer cherries in a pot with water, sugar, and optional stewing spices on low heat for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. The cherries will split their skins and color the cooking water. Turn off heat, remove stewing spices.

Carefully puree part or all of the hot soup. I like having whole cherries in my soup, so usually puree only 1 cup. Return puree to the pot.

In a small cup, make a slurry of cornstarch and water. Pour slowly into cherry mixture. Bring cherry mixture to a boil while stirring the pot in a figure 8 with a wooden spoon. The liquid will become "clear" (not see-through, but not turbid either) and the spoon will "slip" on the bottom of the pot. (If you've never cooked with cornstarch before, it's magical.) Turn off heat.

Add the optional flavorings. It's amazing how vanilla or almond enhance the flavor of cherries. The liquid should taste very strong and too sweet, almost like canned pie filling, but the cherries should taste pleasantly tart.

At this point there are many options. The traditional presentation is to stir in the sour cream (or sweet cream or yogurt), then chill and serve cold. Or the sour cream can be omitted at this point and the soup chilled and served as is or with sour cream stirred in later. Or omit sour cream and use as topping for waffles, ice cream, or almond float or even as flavoring for homemade cherry ice cream or as a base for cherry sorbet.

Yield: 4-6 dessert or appetizer servings.

*Yes, I skipped L. It's too hot to fuss – I'll get back to it later.


--Deb said...

Ooh, that sounds yummy!

Kelli Simone said...

The next time I get cherries at the farmer's market, I'll have to try. ~ksp

Bezzie said...

Mmm..considering I could eat a can of cherry pie filling, this looks delish!

Kim said...

Drool. Yum.