Black Cherry Soup with Port

About 12 years ago I spent a day with Chef Raymond Blanc at his Le Manoir Aux Quat’ Saisons in Oxford, England to do research for a book proposal. He was an amazing tutor, walking me through his organic gardens, giving me a tour of the best rooms in the Manoir, showing me in detail all the stations and rooms in the kitchen—and then showing me how he makes several of his signature dishes—including his technique for making a stunning cherry tomato clear broth.

For a person who never took a cooking class and never went to cooking school, who rose to be one of the world’s great Michelin starred chefs, his creativity and brilliant approach to food gained my deep appreciation that has stayed firmly in place to this day.

His cookbook, Cooking For Friends, is where I found this recipe (Soupe de Cerises en Aigre Doux). He has a passion for working with fresh produce from each season, and for me the season is awash with ripe cherries—the star ingredient in his soup.

As I worked through the recipe I again felt a great liking for this cook for showing me how to think about food and new ways to prepare it. For instance, this recipe calls for crushing the pits of the cherries to create another layer of flavor for the cherry soup base. I googled cherry pits and found out that they are often crushed to make almond flavored liqueurs and jams.

Instead of his suggestion to use a mortar and pestle to crush them, I took the easy way out and pounded them with a hammer! It worked.

Black Cherry Soup with Port

The only thing I changed from his recipe, which I am sharing with you below, is to add cinnamon powder instead of a cinnamon stick.

First wash the cherries.

Black Cherry Soup with Port

Then pit them, and save the pits. You will crush them either in a mortar and pestle or with a hammer.

Black Cherry Soup with Port

Then you put them in a sauce pan with the port wine, shavings of lemon peel, lemon juice, and cinnamon. After a minute’s boil, you cover the pot and let it sit for 4 hours, strain it, and refrigerate overnight. The most work involved is pitting the cherries, and I did that while watching the news on TV.

The next day you have soup! You just whisk in sour cream and serve! Thank you, Raymond, for yet another recipe that I just love. It is refreshing and goes really well with a chilled bottle of Riesling.

Serves 4

Raymond Blanc’s Black Cherry Soup with Port (Soupe de Cerises en Aigre Doux)

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds Morello or black cherries
  • 14 ounces tawny port
  • 1/4 lemon peel
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1/4 cinnamon stick (or 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon)
  • 5 ounces sour cream
  • pinch salt
  • pinch ground white pepper

Cooking Directions

  1. Wash and clean the cherries, reserving 8 with the stems intact for garnish.
  2. Pit the cherries, saving the pits. Then crush the cherry pits with a mortar & pestal or with a hammer.
  3. Place the pits in a sauce pan with the wine, lemon peel, lemon juice, and cinnamon stick and bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute. Cover and let marinate at room temperature for 4 hours.
  4. Strain the soup through a fine sieve, using a spoon to press down to obtain the most juice possible. Add the remaining cherries to the liquid and simmer for 2 minutes.
  5. Cool then refrigerate (I refrigerated mine overnight).
  6. When you are ready to serve, whisk the sour cream into the soup, divide between 4 soup bowls, and garnish each with two cherries with stems.

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