A good friend recently asked “What’s the purpose of chilled soup?” – understandable coming from a man that builds beautiful homes around the valley (to steal and paraphrase from our esteemed US Postal Service) ‘through rain, sleet, snow and dark of night’. When you’re working 30 feet off the ground, placing 600# roof skins in a blinding snow storm, chilled soup is most likely not on your mind – but winter does pass, and come mid- August, when the temps sneak into the 90s and the work or play day is through, there’s nothing quite like an al fresco dinner on Swan Lake with good friends and simple yet beautifully crafted food.
Each day at Caneel, I am charged with creating a chilled soup for lunch and with a large pantry and lovely produce to choose from, it’s a joy to be experimental (and for those of you who dine at the Horse, you know how I love to experiment!). This week’s offering, although served chilled here on St. John, is also scrumptious served warm and is a spin-off of the Horse’s Mushroom and Brie Bisque.
Chilled Roasted Figs and Chevre Soup
Ingredients: Fresh Figs (canned Kamato may be substituted out of season), fresh pears or apples, bananas, plain yogurt, guava or mango juice, brown sugar, virgin olive oil, cumin, white pepper, Kosher salt and chevre.
The key to a richly nuanced chilled fruit soup are the natural sugars existing in the fruit that -paradoxically- are only released with heat. Large dice your flat of figs, two apples or pears, and a couple of bananas and place in a bowl. Sprinkle the fruit with a bit of dark brown sugar (or honey), a pinch of cumin, salt and pepper and just enough olive oil to lightly coat the fruit when tossed. Place the fruit on a baking sheet and place in the oven at 425 for approximately 15 minutes, or until the fruit begins to brown. Remove and let the fruit cool to room temperature. Place the fruit in a Robo Coupe or Cuisinart with juice and yogurt and blend (I like my soups with some texture so I forego the blender). Drop in chunks of tangy goat cheese and mix gently keeping bits of pure cheese suspended in the soup. Refrigerate for a few hours and serve with some fresh mint or basil. Yummm! Sweet and tangy, just like island life! Until next week….I’m out of the kitchen today and and heading out for a sail…take care.