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Start your holiday meal with a refreshing strawberry and champagne soup

Strawberry Champagne Soup

Active Time:10 minutes

Total time:10 minutes, plus 4 hours of chilling

Portions:6 (makes about 3 1/2 cups)

Active Time:10 minutes

Total time:10 minutes, plus 4 hours of chilling

Portions:6 (makes about 3 1/2 cups)

Remark

Americans often wax poetic about the traditional dishes found on their Thanksgiving tables — sweet potato casseroles with roasted marshmallow topping, kale swimming in potlikker, tamales stuffed with green chiles, and roast pork. But my memories of Thanksgiving dinner at my grandmother’s house in central Northern New Jersey on a teacup in the middle of a plate filled with… fruit salad.

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Honestly, I had no idea that starting a feast with a refreshing bite of orange and grapefruit wedges wasn’t the norm until I started hosting my own dinner parties as an adult and a sea of ​​faces stared at me in amazement at the table. bowls of fruit on their plates. “What is this?” came the chorus of voices, jabbing gingerly into the citrus with their forks, as if I had presented them with bowls of squirming earthworms.

“It’s a fruit salad,” I explained. “We always ate them for Thanksgiving dinner when I was growing up, didn’t we?”

Apparently not. After a few years I just gave up. Why waste perfectly good citrus when everyone just wants to get straight to the mashed potatoes, green beans, and stuffing? Still, the need for that light taste of fruit at the start of the meal gnawed at me for years, until a bag of frozen strawberries and an order to bring soup to a friend’s Christmas dinner prompted me to make a clear Strawberry-Champagne Soup. to make – an elegant yet easy starter that quickly became a tradition, while I was able to honor the memory of my grandmother’s gatherings.

It was a relief to discover that recipe developer Chadwick Boyd’s great-grandmother also served a fruit salad — or what she called “fruit cup” — at the start of the holiday meals. A cut-glass serving bowl filled with a combination of canned fruit cocktail topped with fresh bananas and oranges always graced the table to start the meal, Boyd said. The special dish represented the few items not grown right there on the family farm in Pennsylvania.

The concept of the fruit salad is a legacy of grandmothers like mine and Boyd’s who grew up in the early 1900s when canneries like Del Monte had perfected the art of blending peach, pear, grape and cherry chunks into a thick syrup. store. enjoyed all year round. For anyone living in the frozen North, canned fruit was a luxurious treat, flavored with pineapples and mandarin oranges, representing “exotic” locations from Florida to Hawaii to Mexico.

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The idea seems strange to us in the 21st century, where just about any fresh fruit can be found almost any time of the year, from mangoes to watermelon, but that combination of sweet and sour flavors is still a tasty way to kick off a wintery day. meal full of root vegetables and roasted meat.

For Boyd, it was an accompaniment to sandwiches at a favorite Atlanta lunch spot that brought him back to fruit salads, inspiring his own update of his great-grandmother’s tradition.

“Their fruit salad was filled with the typical fruit,” said Boyd, “such as kiwis, grapes, oranges and apples. The difference was the preparation, because it was what they called a ‘confetti fruit salad’, where all the pieces were diced into 1 /4-inches were sliced ​​so you tasted every fruit in every bite. With chunky fruit salads you can pick around the grapes or pineapple, but with the confetti salad you get all the flavors.”

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Boyd likes to play with different combinations of both texture and flavor, from kumquats and star fruit in winter to berries and melons in summer.

When starting a meal with fruit, whether as a soup or salad, focus on flavors that aren’t too sweet, such as pairing sour Granny Smith apples with sweeter Bosc pears, then amp up the fruit with acid , herbs and spices. Boyd makes a vinegar-honey dressing for his fruit salad, while my strawberry soup is garnished with a few drops of balsamic vinegar, fresh basil, and freshly ground black pepper.

The result is a festive appetizer that awakens the palate and brightens up the gloomiest winter’s day – but our grandmothers already knew that.

Strawberry Champagne Soup

Because the soup uses frozen strawberries, it can be served all year round. Serve it in small bowls, large teacups or coupes.

Make Ahead: The strawberry base should be refrigerated for at least 4 hours and up to 2 days before serving.

Storage: Put the strawberry base in the fridge for a maximum of 2 days.

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  • 1 pound frozen strawberries, thawed
  • 1/4 cup light honey, preferably orange blossom, plus more if needed
  • Finely grated zest and juice of 1 large orange, plus more juice if needed
  • 1 cup of dry champagne or sparkling wine, such as prosecco or cava
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, to serve
  • Balsamic vinegar, to serve
  • Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon, to serve
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to serve

In a blender, combine the strawberries, honey, orange zest, and juice in a blender and puree on high speed until well incorporated, adding more juice as needed, 1 tablespoon at a time, to achieve a thick, pourable consistency. Transfer to a lidded container and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 2 days.

Just before serving, stir the champagne or sparkling wine into the strawberry mixture to mix well and divide between four small bowls.

Garnish each with a few basil leaves, a few drops of balsamic vinegar, a pinch of flaky salt and some ground pepper. Serve cold.

Per serving (generous 1/2 cup), based on 6

Calories: 104; Total fat: 0g; Saturated fat: 0 g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 2mg; Carbohydrates: 20 g; Dietary fiber: 2 g; Sugar: 15 g; Protein: 0g

This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not replace the advice of a dietician or nutritionist.

From food writer Kristen Hartke.

Tested by Olga Massov; email questions to voracious@washpost.com.

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