Fresh OJ adds brightness to this chilled starter
Soup is cool. And in this case, chilled. Which is perfect for the warm weather we’re having in our part of the world.
We particularly like this dish because it allows us to use some of the fresh, ripe strawberries that are showing up in our market. Fruit is inherently sweet, of course. But add a bit of sourness (balsamic vinegar) and spicy heat (chipotle), and you have a savory starter.
Best of all, you can make this dish a day ahead. So any time you’re ready, soup is on.
Recipe: Strawberry-Chipotle Soup with Mint
We got the idea for this soup when we were working on our recipe for Strawberry-Chipotle Salsa with Jalapeño. But for soup, we wanted something with less kick and richer flavor.
So we dropped the onion and jalapeño, and added OJ, sour cream, and mint. The result is a smooth starter that will wake up your taste buds for the meal to come.
Prep time for this dish is about 15 minutes. You’ll also want to let the soup chill for at least an hour before serving. Or even chill it overnight.
Leftovers will keep for a couple of days if refrigerated in an airtight container (the soup will be “good” for longer than that, but its flavor will deteriorate).
This recipe yields 4 servings.
- 2 pounds fresh strawberries (reserve some for garnish)
- 1 to 2 chipotle peppers (from a can of chipotles in adobo sauce; to taste — see Notes)
- 1 teaspoon of adobo sauce (from the chipotle can)
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (or to taste; vanilla-flavored balsamic is ideal if you can find it, but regular balsamic is splendid too)
- 1 cup orange juice, preferably fresh-squeezed (increase this amount if you want a more liquid soup; see Notes)
- 1 tablespoon sugar (or to taste; optional — see Notes)
- 1 cup sour cream, yogurt, or crème fraîche
- 3 to 4 tablespoons fresh mint, minced (to taste)
- garnish of mint and/or fresh strawberries (optional)
- Wash and hull the strawberries. Set the berries aside, reserving a few for garnish.
- Add the chipotle pepper(s) to the bowl of a food processor. Add the adobo sauce, balsamic vinegar, and orange juice. Process for a few seconds until the chipotle pepper is well blended. Add the sugar (if using) and the strawberries. Process but don’t liquefy the strawberries – you want them to retain considerable texture.
- Using a spatula, scrape the mixture into a storage container that can be made airtight. Stir in the sour cream, yogurt, or crème fraiche (but see Notes; you may want to do this later). Cover the container tightly and let the soup chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
- Right before serving, wash the mint and chop it finely. Stir it into the soup.
- Dish the soup into serving bowls. Garnish with mint (chopped or whole) and/or chopped or sliced strawberries.
- You may not need to add sugar to this soup if your strawberries are ripe and sweet. Or you may need to add more than we specify. If in doubt, skip the sugar. Taste the soup after it’s been chilled, then add sugar if necessary.
- BTW, honey makes a good substitute for sugar in this recipe.
- We generally use two canned chipotle peppers in this soup. We like spice, so that suits our taste. We notice the ping, but it’s not overwhelming. To us. If in doubt, start with one chipotle pepper. Do note that the longer the chile steeps in the soup, the stronger it becomes. So if you make this a day ahead, the soup will be spicier than if you make it, chill it for an hour or two, then serve it.
- In the US, canned chipotle chilies tend to be sold in 7-ounce containers. The adobo sauce they’re packed in has a tangy vinegar flavor.
- What to do with the leftover chipotle peppers (you’ll only be using part of the can in this recipe)? We place the rest of them in a small airtight container and store them in the refrigerator until we have another use for them. They’ll keep for weeks.
- Fresh-squeezed OJ is wonderful in this soup. But bottled “fresh” OJ works too. If you want a more liquidy soup, you can increase the amount to 1½ (or even 2) cups. If you do that, you probably won’t need to add sugar. And you may want to use a touch more vinegar.
- If you want to intensify the orange flavor of this soup, you could float a teaspoon or two of Grand Marnier liqueur on top of each bowl right before serving (apply the liqueur before you add the garnish). Or stir a couple tablespoons of liqueur into the soup just before you ladle it up.
- We love to combine strawberries with balsamic vinegar. And vanilla-flavored balsamic is particularly luscious in this dish (the one we used adds fig to the mix – which makes for a fun flavor).
- You can increase the amount of balsamic vinegar to 2 tablespoons – it won’t be too much. At least we don’t think so. But let your taste buds rule.
- We haven’t tried it, but you could probably substitute lemon juice for vinegar if you prefer.
- The fruit/vinegar combo is an old one. It was popular during the 17th and 18th centuries in both Britain and colonial America. Vinegar also was sometimes used to preserve fruit.
- In America, cooks often made syrups from vinegar and fruit. There is a whole class of cocktails called “shrubs” that use vinegar/fruit syrup as an ingredient.
- We like to add the sour cream, yogurt, or crème fraiche to this soup in Step 3 (so its flavor has time to mingle with the strawberry mixture). Do be aware, though, that the addition will turn the intense red of the strawberries into a more muted, orangish color. If you want the strawberry red to be more apparent, you could add ¼ cup of sour cream, yogurt, or crème fraiche to the top of each bowl (as a garnish), and then let your guests stir it in with their soup spoons.
- We haven’t tried it, but we think that savory whipped cream could make an interesting substitute for sour cream. You can find instructions for making it in our recipe for Asparagus with Savory Whipped Cream.
The Big Chill
“Mmmm,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “This soup really makes a strawberry statement.”
“Careful,” I said. “You’re showing your age there.”
“Yeah, I better chill on the 1960s references,” said Mrs K R.
“Don’t wanna sound cold and old,” I said.
“Fortunately, this soup is cold and bold,” said Mrs K R.
“Yup,” I said. “Even an old guy like me can soup things up once in a while. Heh, heh.”
“Take a chill pill, dude,” said Mrs K R. “Gray guys shouldn’t get overexcited.”
“Hey, you’re only as old as you feel,” I said. “That’s my new motto!”
“Really?” said Mrs K R. “I was thinking of a different motto.”
“What’s that, chill girl?” I said.
“Don’t trust anyone over 130.”
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