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Dare to chill a peach? Yes, it’s a soup

Recipe: Use very ripe fruit in this dish for best flavor

Peach soup in a dish on a blue placemat
Garnish the soup with a few thin slices of peach before serving. (Photos: Kathy Morrison)

I dearly love peaches, and have long wanted to make the chilled peach soup recipe in "The Perfect Peach," published in 2013 by the peach-farming Masumoto family.

The cookbook is full of sweet and savory dishes as well as stories by David Mas Masumoto, whose family has grown heirloom peaches in the San Joaquin Valley for generations. (He gained national acclaim for the memoir "Epitaph for a Peach" in 1995, and has written other books since.)

Marcy Masumoto, his wife, developed this particular recipe.  Interestingly, I found her version too creamy and not "peachy" enough. So the recipe below reflects my changes. The carrot puree may seem an odd inclusion, but it does give the soup some depth, and contributes to the lovely color.

I found some beautiful ripe peaches at our local fruit stand, but also included one of my six precious Honey Babe peaches, the total harvest from my miniature backyard peach tree. The peach nectar in the recipe is found in soda-like aluminum cans, usually in a store's juice section.

Peaches in two bowls of water
A hot water bath followed by a plunge into ice will
loosen the skins on peaches. The method works on
tomatoes, too.

Chilled peach soup

Serves 4 to 6 as appetizer or brunch dish

Ingredients:

1 medium carrot, peeled and sliced or diced, about 1/2 cup

2 to 3 very ripe peaches (the Masumotos call them "gushers")

1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger root

1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lime juice

1/2 cup plain low-fat Greek yogurt

6 tablespoons canned peach nectar, divided

2 tablespoons half-and-half

Kosher salt

For garnish:

2 fresh peaches, one peeled and diced, the other thinly sliced, peeling optional (depends on how fuzzy it is)

Instructions:

Place the carrot pieces in a small saucepan and cover with about 1 cup cold water. Bring to a boil and then simmer on medium heat 5 to 7 minutes, until a knife point can easily pierce a carrot piece. Set the pan aside for the carrots to cool; do not drain.

Peel the 2 to 3 "gusher" peaches by cutting an X into the pointed end and dropping them into a bowl of hot water for a few minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer them to a bowl of ice water for a minute, then peel.

Slice the peeled peaches into the container of a blender. Blend on medium high until they are fully pureed. Pour out into a liquid measuring cup. You should have at least 1 cup of puree.

Don't clean the blender yet: Place the cooked carrots and 1/2 cup of their cooking liquid in the blender container and puree it. Pour in the peach puree, pulse to blend, then add the grated ginger, the lime juice, yogurt, 4 tablespoons of the peach nectar, and the half-and-half.

""
Fresh peach pieces go into the bowl before the
soup is poured over them.

Pour into a bowl or other large glass container, cover tightly, and chill at least 1 hour or overnight.

Before serving, add about 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, then taste the soup. Adjust the taste and consistency by using more peach nectar, more salt or more lime juice, as preferred.

To serve, place  a generous 1 tablespoon of the diced garnish peach in the bottom of a chilled bowl or ice cream dish. Pour about 1/2 cup of soup over the diced peaches, then garnish with 2 thin slices of the other garnish peach.

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Garden Checklist for week of May 19

Temperatures will be a bit higher than normal in the afternoons this week. Take care of chores early in the day – then enjoy the afternoon. It’s time to smell the roses.

* Plant, plant, plant! It’s prime planting season in the Sacramento area. If you haven’t already, it’s time to set out those tomato transplants along with peppers and eggplants. Pinch off any flowers on new transplants to make them concentrate on establishing roots instead of setting premature fruit.

* Direct-seed melons, cucumbers, summer squash, corn, radishes, pumpkins and annual herbs such as basil.

* Harvest cabbage, lettuce, peas and green onions.

* In the flower garden, direct-seed sunflowers, cosmos, salvia, zinnias, marigolds, celosia and asters.

* Plant dahlia tubers. Other perennials to set out include verbena, coreopsis, coneflower and astilbe.

* Transplant petunias, marigolds and perennial flowers such as astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia and verbena.

* Keep an eye out for slugs, snails, earwigs and aphids that want to dine on tender new growth.

* Feed summer bloomers with a balanced fertilizer.

* For continued bloom, cut off spent flowers on roses as well as other flowering plants.

* Don’t forget to water. Seedlings need moisture. Deep watering will help build strong roots and healthy plants.

* Add mulch to the garden to help keep that precious water from evaporating. Mulch also cuts down on weeds. But don’t let it mound around the stems or trunks of trees or shrubs. Leave about a 6-inch to 1-foot circle to avoid crown rot or other problems.

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