Sweet Soup

Right now I am up to my eyeballs in citrus… three varieties of mandarins, and a box full of gorgeous cocktail and Oroblanco grapefruit left over from a shoot. Don’t think I’m complaining… I have some inkling of how lucky I am. Seriously, I must have about 100 page mandarins, little bite-sized golden orbs that are incredibly juicy and sweet. I can’t stand to let a single piece go to waste, so my head starts dreaming up recipes.

Today, it was soup. Sweet soup. Sweet citrus soup. Sweet cream of citrus soup, to be exact. Like a creamsicle in a bowl. Or, really, more like a little tiny shot glass… a little goes a long way of this stuff, and I can’t imagine eating a whole bowl full. The soup itself is almost like making a citrus curd, but stopping just before the point of final thickening. A little saffron is tossed into the heating cream, just to give it a little something that you can’t quite put your finger on. The aroma of the steam coming off the citrus and cream concoction makes me think of peaches warm in the sunshine. Once chilled, it thickens ever so slightly for a smooth sip.

I still need to play around with how to present and serve the soup… it really needs a topping… maybe a drip or two of citrus oil or, better for color and a different flavor maybe a raspberry oil. An icewine foam would be fantastic as well. I decided to go with a variation on the foam idea, and came up with a balsamic and cranberry syrup Italian meringue, the lightness of the meringue kept the balsamic from overpowering the soup, but still gave it an interesting kick. My only regret was the color, which was not so surprisingly a dingy grey. A pure white meringue, or a meringue kissed with pink would be a better presentation. Maybe next time, I’ll use a raspberry syrup.

(I don’t want to sound like a commercial, but in case you are curious, all the fruit is from Rising C Ranches)

Cream of Citrus and Saffron Soup with Cranberry Balsamic Meringue
makes about 4 to 6 small servings

A note about the citrus. You can use just about any kind of citrus you want in this soup, but I really like it with sweeter varieties, like blood oranges or mandarins. I used a combination of Page and Shasta Mandarins, Seville Sour Oranges and Sweet Limes for mine.

For the soup
1/4 cup cream
3 to 4 strands of saffron
1 T sugar (optional)
2 cups citrus juice, strained

For the foam
1/4 cup cranberry juice
1 t sugar
2 T balsamic
1 egg white, at room temperature

Heat the cream, saffron and sugar on medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Slowly whisk in the citrus juice, and continue to stir. Let the mixture heat until it starts giving off a lot of steam, and remove from heat just before it comes to a boil. Continue to stir as it cools to room temperature. Then, refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Combine the cranberry juice, sugar and balsamic in a heavy pot and heat on medium to medium-high until the sugar dissolves. Continue heating until the syrup mixture reaches 248F. While that is heating, start whisking your egg white. If you are doing this by hand, a copper pot helps. Once the whites are forming soft peaks, start pouring in the hot syrup and continue to whisk until the mixture is smooth and glossy.

Assembly is pretty straight forward. Just fill shot-sized glasses up with the soup, and dollop on the meringue. Or, you can put the meringue in a ziploc, cut off the corner and pipe it on to make a cool swirl.

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