For me there is nothing more refreshing on a hot day than a bowl of cold sour cherry soup. Sour cherries are revered in Hungary, where they are made into pies, strudels, tarts, and soups. Since sour cherries are in season right now, I picked up a quart last week at the Greenmarket specifically to make this soup. Cold soups, mostly savory, are enjoyed throughout Europe in the summertime. Sour cherry soup is technically a sweet soup, but because of its tartness it works well as a first course. I prefer it as a dessert but I just eat it whenever I feel like cooling off. I grew up eating my mom's cherry soup, so for me it's something that I love and I can't imagine my summers without it.
Hungarian cherry soup can also be made from dark sweet cherries, but sour cherries are preferred for their zing. The soup is traditionally made with the pits intact, so that is how I make it here. But if you would rather pit your cherries, that's fine too. I always provide guests with little bowls as spittoons. I think leaving the pits in adds to the fun and enjoyment of eating the soup. No one wants to cook in the summer, but trust me, this soup's ten-minute cooking time is worth the trouble. After having a big bowl of chilled sour cherry soup, you will be singing its praises and adding the recipe to your summer repertoire.
Sour Cherry Soup
2 pounds sour cherries
4 cups water
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 whole cloves
1 small cinnamon stick
1 lemon slice
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup flour
Combine cherries, water, sugar, salt, cloves, cinnamon, and lemon in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile combine sour cream and flour in a mixing bowl. Mix until smooth.
Ladle 1 cup of soup into cream-flour mixture. Mix until smooth. Pour into soup and stir to combine. Simmer for 5 minutes.
Set the saucepan into an ice-water bath to cool. Chill completely in the refrigerator. Serve cold. Yield: 4 servings.