In her newest book, Dinner in French, prolific cookbook author and New York Times food columnist Melissa Clark shares recipes inspired by childhood summers spent in France with her family—flavors that became interwoven with her own food traditions back in Brooklyn. This Strawberry Champagne Soup makes for a particularly spectacular, and simple to make, dessert. “I’ve learned that spiking a bright and tangy fruit purée with champagne moves it away from any breakfast associations and into the realm of stunning, sophisticated desserts,” writes Clark. She serves the soup topped with crumbles of homemade fleur de sel meringues, but notes that store bought meringues will work just fine when sprinkled with some flaky sea salt upon serving.
Strawberry Champagne Soup
½ cup sugar
⅓ cup fresh mint leaves, plus more for serving
2 lbs. strawberries, hulled and sliced, divided
1 bottle inexpensive champagne or other sparkling wine
Toasted sliced almonds, for serving
In a small pot, combine ½ cup of water with the sugar and mint leaves. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the mint simple syrup from the heat and let it cool completely; then strain it into a medium bowl.
In a blender, combine approximately two-thirds of the strawberries (save the prettiest ones for serving) with ¼ cup of the strained simple syrup. Blend until the mixture is completely smooth. Taste, and add more simple syrup if it’s not quite sweet enough. Strain, and chill for at least 1 hour.
When you’re ready to serve the strawberry soup, slice or quarter the reserved strawberries and stir them gently into the bowl containing the remaining simple syrup; set it aside to macerate while you prepare the servings of soup. Divide the strawberry purée among serving bowls or coupes. Gently stir in champagne to taste. Float the meringues on top (you can crush them or leave them whole), and garnish with the macerated strawberries, fresh mint leaves, and toasted almonds.
Fleur de Sel Meringues
2 large egg whites
Pinch of cream of tartar
Pinch of fine sea salt
½ cup sugar
Fleur de sel, as needed
Heat the oven to 275°F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites, cream of tartar, and fine sea salt on medium-high speed until frothy, about 1 minute. Gradually add the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, and keep whipping until the meringue forms medium-stiff peaks.
Transfer the meringue to a piping bag (or use two tablespoons) and form 16 golf ball–size meringues on the prepared cookie sheet. Sprinkle the meringues with fleur de sel.
Transfer the cookie sheet to the oven and immediately reduce the oven temperature to 225°F. Bake until the meringues are no longer tacky, 60 to 70 minutes. Then turn off the oven and let the meringues cool completely in the oven (this can take 2 to 4 hours, or you can leave them in overnight).
Reprinted with permission from Dinner in French: My Recipes by Way of France by Melissa Clark copyright 2020. Photography copyright by Laura Edwards. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Penguin Random House.
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