Aromatic spices and (optional) chipotle energize this seasonal pleaser
Plums are overflowing our supermarket displays this time of year. They’re just begging us to take them away from their overcrowded bins. So how can we leave plums off the dinner menu?
This savory soup gives the succulent stone fruit a starring role. It’s a terrific starter for a festive meal.
So cheer up your summer-weary guests with a cool spooner. And give some plums a home.
Recipe: Chilled Plum Soup
Plums (and pluots, a combination of plums and apricots) are in season from late spring until early fall. We particularly like to buy them in late August and early September – that’s when they seem to be at their sweetest and most flavorful in our part of the world.
You can make this soup with plums, pluots, or a mix of the two. So buy what looks best at your market.
Prep time for this dish is about 10 minutes. Cooking adds another 30 minutes or so. Then the soup needs to chill for at least two hours in the refrigerator.
You can make this dish a day ahead, if you wish. In fact, we recommend it – that gives the flavors more time to mingle.
This recipe serves 4 as a first course. Leftovers keep for a day or two if refrigerated in an airtight container.
- ~2 pounds plums or pluots (or a mix of the two)
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 whole chipotle chile pepper (optional, but tasty – see Notes; we use canned chipotles)
- ¾ cup port wine (ruby is our choice; see Notes for substitutions)
- ¾ cup orange juice
- honey or brown sugar if needed (maybe a tablespoon or two; see Notes)
- salt to taste (a couple of pinches of kosher salt for us; see Notes)
- garnish of sour cream or yogurt and/or mint (optional)
- Wash the plums and stem them if necessary. Then pit them: The easiest way is to cut the plums in half along the equator, then pull out the pits. Chop the plums roughly.
- Place the chopped plums in a nonreactive saucepan. Add the spices (cloves, nutmeg, allspice, and cinnamon), along with the chipotle chile pepper, port wine, and orange juice. Bring the mixture to a simmer. Then partially cover the saucepan and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes (until the flesh of the plums starts to break down).
- Remove the plum mixture from the heat and let it cool. Then zap the mixture with a handheld blender (or ladle it into a blender or food processor). Process until smooth.
- Taste the soup. Add honey or brown sugar if necessary. Add salt if needed. Process briefly to incorporate the added ingredients, then pour the soup into an airtight container. Refrigerate for at least two hours (preferably overnight).
- To serve, ladle the soup into bowls. For garnish (if desired), add a dollop of sour cream or yogurt, and/or a mint sprig. Enjoy!
- Port goes well with many fruits – and it’s perfect in this dish. We like to use ruby port for cooking. But any port that you’d enjoy drinking would work.
- You could substitute a fruity red wine for the port if you prefer. Beaujolais would be our choice. We haven’t tried pinot noir, but have heard it works well with plums.
- Freshly squeezed OJ is ideal in this dish, but bottled orange juice works perfectly well.
- Want a more intense orange flavor? Add some orange zest.
- Or try adding a tablespoon of orange liqueur (like Grand Marnier) to each bowl before serving.
- One chipotle chile pepper gives a hint of spice to this soup, but won’t be particularly hot. Use two chipotles if you like to walk on the wild side.
- In the US, canned chipotle chilies are usually sold in 7-ounce containers. The adobo sauce they’re packed in tends to be quite tangy. You could use a teaspoon of it in this dish if you want.
- Leftover canned chipotle chilies keep for weeks (months, really) if refrigerated in an airtight container. You can also freeze them.
- You may (or may not) want to add some sweetness to this soup – it depends on your taste buds. Honey or brown sugar would be our sweeteners of choice.
- You may also need to add a pinch or two of salt to bring out the flavor.
- Instead of salt, you could add a tablespoon of lemon juice or balsamic vinegar to this dish. The acid makes the flavor “pop.”
- We like to garnish this soup with a tablespoon of sour cream or yogurt (Greek yogurt works particularly well). A sprig of mint adds a nice finishing touch.
- Or add a dollop of savory whipped cream: Just whip some cream the normal way. But instead of adding sugar, substitute a bit of salt and black pepper.
Everybody Must Get Stoned
“Slurp,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “This soup provokes me to a purple passion.”
“Yup,” I said. “Plum delicious.”
“Stone fruits are so subversive,” said Mrs K R. “Just sitting there in bins, looking innocent.”
“And no one suspects how much flavor punch they pack,” I said. “Especially when you combine them with a few spices.”
“Then they turn into weapons of mass attraction,” said Mrs K R. “It’s crazy.”
Plum crazy, you might say.
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