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Chilled berry soup a winner

Cool fruity appetizer for a hot summer night

A strawberry fan is a fun garnish for summer berry soup. A dollop of sour cream and a sprig of mint also would make a nice finishing touch.

A strawberry fan is a fun garnish for summer berry soup. A dollop of sour cream and a sprig of mint also would make a nice finishing touch. Kathy Morrison

Let me say right up front: Fruit soup is not a smoothie. The wine in it, for one thing, makes it an inappropriate liquid to be gulping in the car on the way to work.

Ingredients for berry soup
Berries, creams and wine -- fruit soup ingredients.

But it's a delicious starter for dinner on a hot summer night. It also can be a brunch dish or even dessert. It's quick, delicious and full of summer flavors.

Fruit soup became a thing in the 1980s as nouvelle cuisine began to influence home cooking. (It has a long history in Scandinavian cooking, but that's another post.) I discovered cold fruit soup in 1984 when Margaret Fox published her "Cafe Beaujolais" cookbook, named for the Mendocino restaurant she owned at the time.

She credits this recipe to a friend who grew the berries for the first version.

The soup became my family's favorite. I have played with the proportions and the liquidity quite a bit over the years. It's best served very cold, in chilled bowls or shot glasses.

The ingredients are flexible: Substitute Greek yogurt for the sour cream, for example, or change up the berry content. Add cherries if you have some. Be aware that if you use more than a few raspberries or blackberries, you might have more seeds in the finished dish than you can tolerate. (Puree the berries ahead of time and strain them, in that case.)

The superfine sugar suggested here is often called "baker's sugar," but it works well in liquids because it blends faster.

Want to avoid using wine in the soup? I finally found a non-alcoholic substitute with a similar bite and color: Unsweetened cranberry juice.  Delicious!

Berries in blender jar
Red, white and blue in the blender jar.

Chilled summer berry soup

Makes about 6 cups


3 total cups of prepared berries or cherries (my favorite is 2 cups strawberries and 1 cup blueberries)

1/2 cup granulated sugar, superfine if available

3/4 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt (regular yogurt can be used, but drain it first, then measure)

1 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup cold water

3/4 cup fruity red wine, such as zinfandel or Chianti, or unsweetened cranberry juice

Garnish suggestions: Strawberry fans, dollops of sour cream or whipped cream, mint sprigs


Place the berries and the sugar in a blender and puree until mostly smooth.

Add the sour cream, heavy cream and water, and blend until combined.

Pour the mixture into a pitcher or glass serving container. Whisk in the wine or cranberry juice. Chill the soup thoroughly before serving.

Serve in small bowls or glasses with garnish of your choice.


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Garden Checklist for week of July 7

Take care of garden chores early in the morning, concentrating on watering. We’re still in survival mode until this heat wave breaks.

* Keep your vegetable garden watered, mulched and weeded. Water before 8 a.m. to conserve moisture.

* Prevent sunburn; provide temporary shade for tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons, squash and other crops with “sensitive” skin.

* Hold off on feeding plants until temperatures cool back down to “normal” range. That means daytime highs in the low to mid 90s.

* Don’t let tomatoes wilt or dry out completely. Give tomatoes a deep watering two to three times a week. Harvest vegetables promptly to encourage plants to produce more.

* Squash especially tends to grow rapidly in hot weather. Keep an eye on zucchini.

* Some weeds thrive in hot weather. Whack them before they go to seed.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushy plants and more flowers in September.

* Harvest tomatoes, squash, peppers and eggplant. Prompt picking will help keep plants producing.

* Remove spent flowers from roses, daylilies and other bloomers as they finish flowering.

* Pinch off blooms from basil so the plant will grow more leaves.

* Cut back lavender after flowering to promote a second bloom.

* One good thing about hot days: Most lawns stop growing when temperatures top 95 degrees. Keep mower blades set on high.

* Once the weather cools down a little, it’s not too late to add a splash of color. Plant petunias, snapdragons, zinnias and marigolds.

* After the heat wave, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, winter squash and sunflowers. Make sure the seeds stay hydrated.

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