Chlled Plum SoupChilled Plum Soup with Sour CreamChilled Plum Soup with Sour Cream

From Farmers’ Market Desserts by Jennie Schacht (Chronicle Books, May 2010)

One childhood role I had was to re-create my grandmother’s best hits for my dad. Plum soup with sour cream, which he called by its Yiddish name, pomella, was one of his favorites. This grown-up version is every bit as satisfying, served in shot glasses as a sort of dessert amuse-bouche, or in bowls accompanied by crisp Hazelnut-Almond Biscotti, Lavender-Walnut Sandies, or Market Jam Gems, made with plum jam if you can find it. The soup is perfect for making in advance because it needs time to chill. If you have leftover soup, take a tip from recipe tester Emily Lichtenstein: freeze it in Popsicle molds for a refreshing plum pop!

Use flavorful, dark flesh plum varieties, such as Santa Rosa or Yummy Rosa, for the soup. The fruit should be quite ripe and soft but not bruised. This recipe is a great way to use up plums about to go over the hill.

Makes 6 to 8 servings

4 cups water
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Few twists of black pepper
2 pounds firm-ripe plums, pitted and coarsely chopped
1 sprig lemon verbena, about 4 inches long (optional)
2 tablespoons crème de cassis or other berry liqueur
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
About 1/2 cup sour cream or crème fraîche, for serving
6 to 8 small sprigs mint or lemon verbena, for garnish

1. Combine the water, sugar, salt, and pepper in a large, heavy, nonreactive saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved. Add the plums, bring back to a boil, and then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Skim off any foam that rises to the top, stirring occasionally, until the fruit is very soft and falling apart, about 20 minutes.

2. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon verbena sprig (if using). Let cool for about 20 minutes, tasting occasionally and removing the lemon verbena when its flavor has perfumed the soup to your liking. It should be a delicate background note, not a predominant flavor.

3. Puree the soup until smooth using an immersion blender, standard blender, or food processor. Stir in the crème de cassis and lemon zest and juice. Cover and refrigerate until very cold, about 4 hours or up to 4 days.

4. Ladle the chilled soup into shallow bowls. Top each serving with a dollop of sour cream and a mint sprig.

Season to Taste: Try other stone fruits, such as peaches, nectarines, or cherries. Strawberries or blackberries also make a delicious soup, though you may want to strain out the seeds. Omit the cassis or substitute a complementary light-colored liqueur for light-colored fruits.