Thursday, August 03, 2006
Seems like everyone is blogging about blueberries these days. Love it. Just got back from a BC trip with two quarts of blueberries that have the most intense blueberry flavour I've ever tasted from cultivated blueberries - almost like blueberry liquor.
This soup began as I was throwing a bowl of things together to eat on a busy night. I decided to use some blueberries I had stewed several days earlier. (Had intended originally to mix them with fresh ones for a pie, but hadn't yet been able to get the fresh ones and finish the pie.) To give the dish of stewed berries some body I added polenta. For protein, I then crumbled some homemade chevre on top. The results were distractingly good.
If you have to buy all the elements it is expensive to make, but hopefully you have blueberries to use up or have access to wild ones. Cream cheese, a spoonful of sour cream or lebnah, or any mild cheese with a slight tang would all work very well if you don't have chevre on hand.
What made this combination really zing, I realized, was making the blueberry mixture with lemon sugar (sugar infused with scrapings of lemon zest) and using cheese made with lemon juice. The citrus sharpness throws the flavour of the berries into relief and so is a traditional addition to blueberry or saskatoon dishes. Otherwise, the blueberries do not need much. You start them with a little water and sweeten them to taste - my soup version of the berries used a lot less sugar than my original pie version. Caramelizing the polenta gave the dish character and a temperature contrast.
Blueberries: Put 1/2 cup of water in a medium saucepan with one and a half pint baskets of blueberries and simmer til they are juicy. The water is just to prevent the berries from burning before giving up their juices. You can add more if you want a thinner soup - blueberries cook up quite thick and you shouldn't need to add any thickener. Add one half lemon's worth of juice and zest. Make yourself a cool drink with the other half. Add sweetener to taste, starting with a tablespoon or so - maple syrup, sugar, or honey would all work well. Cool and refrigerate. This much will make a breakfast/late supper dish for two, or you could serve it in smaller dishes as shown to up to six for dessert.
Polenta: Use a chunk of cooked polenta about the size of two decks of cards. Cut in cubes and brown in some butter and sugar or maple syrup until the polenta is heated through and has a crispy brown surface. Use medium heat because the sugar burns fast.
Chevre: Crumble one tsp of chevre per dessert serving, as shown, or up to two tablespoons for a bigger bowl.
Assembly should be quick, since you should eat while there is still a good contrast between the warm polenta and cold soup - take a bowl of soup out of the fridge, tip the cubes of polenta on top of it, and sprinkle with the chevre.
Another entry for Sweetnicks' ARF/5-a-day. Roundup every Tuesday.