Friday, April 25, 2008

Rhubarb Soup

I love dessert soups. They are light, refreshing, simple and pure manifestations of the season’s best fruit. Preparation is always fairly minimal and the rewards are great.

While we’re in the midst of rhubarb season, I thought I’d present a wonderful recipe for Rhubarb Soup from Simply Sensational Desserts by François Payard. I absolutely love Strawberry Rhubarb Pie, but sometimes we are searching for lighter fare on a warm spring night and this is a nice alternative. Rhubarb soup has all of the same bright tart flavors without any other textures or fat content to mediate the purity of the fresh fruit.

This recipe is for rhubarb lovers and those who gravitate toward a nice level of tartness in their desserts. And the gorgeous color is a beautiful way to liven up your table. Take a drink of this incredible soup and you’ll discover a whole new way to enjoy rhubarb.

Bench notes:

- Payard’s recipe calls for Grenadine, which is a very sweet syrup used as a mixer in cocktails. It’s made from a base of corn syrup and, wherever possible, I try to avoid that ingredient. The term Grenadine is derived from grenade, the French word for pomegranate. It’s quite easy to replicate and has a much cleaner and fresher taste. It should be fairly sweet to offset the tartness of the rhubarb, but taste it and adjust as you go along. If you want to make extra, it’s a good addition to lemonade.
- I added just a little splash of lemon to the soup at the end to brighten the flavors. I think it makes a big difference.
- Another nice garnish would be a small scoop of orange sorbet.
- Payard serves this at room temperature, but I prefer it chilled for a really refreshing dessert.

Rhubarb Soup
adapted from Simply Sensational Desserts by François Payard
Serves 8

Grated zest of 1 orange
Grated zest of 1 lime
1 stalk of lemongrass, chopped coarsely

4 C water
2/3 C sugar
1/3 C Grenadine or pomegranate syrup (see below)
1 lb rhubarb (about 7 stalks), washed, trimmed and sliced
lemon juice, to taste


Make a flavor sachet by placing the citrus zests and chopped lemongrass on a piece of cheesecloth. Tie together with string.

Bring the water and sugar to a simmer and add the rhubarb. Slowly bring the mixture to a boil, then remove from heat and add the flavor sachet and pomegranate syrup. Cover and let steep for 2 hours.

Remove flavor sachet and whisk the soup to break up some of the rhubarb. Add a splash of lemon juice, to taste.

Prepare the fruit garnishes by slicing the strawberries and mango into matchsticks.

To serve, place a heaping tablespoon of sliced strawberries in serving bowls. Ladle the soup into the bowls and garnish with a bit of mango.

Pomegranate Syrup

1 C pomegranate juice
1/2 C sugar, to taste
lemon juice, to taste

Bring 1 C of pomegranate juice to a simmer and reduce by 1/2. Add 1/2 C sugar and simmer until dissolved. Taste to adjust sweetness. It should be fairly sweet to offset the rhubarb, but not super sugary. Take off the heat and add just a splash of lemon juice. Set aside to cool.


Cannelle Et Vanille said...

Great recipe Gayle! The photos are great and I love the idea of the soup. I was actually thinking about making it myself this weekend if I am able to find good berries at the farmers market. I will make some kind of light cheese ice cream to go with it too. Great job once again!

Anonymous said...

when I first saw your photo on tastespotting I thought it was a beet soup. Than I saw the word Rhubarb and had to take a double take. I have never had a dessert soup before. I bet it's delicious and perfect for a hot summers day. Wonderful!

test it comm said...

A desert soup with Rhubard sounds really good. I would enjoy the tartness of a rhubarb soup.

Anonymous said...

This sounds very interesting and your pictures are great!

My Sweet & Saucy said...

What a beautiful soup! I just ran by some rhubarb today at the store and should of picked it up!

Pierrette said...

I made this for desert tonight, we did not have any mangoes so i used pear instead it was delicious - thank you.

pastry studio said...

Pierrette, thanks so much for your feedback. Isn't it refreshing? I love the idea of pear, too. Glad you enjoyed it!