Filed under: Desserts, summer seasonal food | Tags: berry soup, gooseberry, old fashioned dessert, potato starch, soy cream
The smell of boiling berries always brings me back to my childhood. A berry soup, kiisseli, was something that I would eat every morning with my oatmeal porridge. I didn’t like it. My mom would make it so that it contained whole black currants, straight out of the freezer, and I hated their thick peels and the sauer taste. Only as an adult I’ve learned to appreciate the taste of black currant. And berry soup? That’s something I hardly ever make.
Here I’ll write about a dessert that my mom sometimes made, and I think it originates from her own childhood. It is called Stablemaster’s Berry Soup, and it is made of very simple ingredients: those people 50 years ago had some dried up rye bread in their cupboard, a gooseberry bush and some fresh cream in their cellar, and as an exotic ingredient just a pinch of cocoa powder. These they combined in an inventive way.
This dessert is a bit like life some fifty years ago, delightful in simple way, as our life now is delightful in a complex way. Those people had a sense of safety within the Big Circles of life: the winter, cold and snowy, would follow the summer, people would marry, have children, grow old and die, and work hard in between. For an individual life was unpredictable, in a sense that the world was not such a safe place to be in, but the communities were strong, even to the point of suffocating their members.
Nowadays, we have a lot of personal safety: good dental care, women’s rights, a possibility to reach anyone we wish, and even be anybody we wish to be. But we feel disconnected, don’t know what to do with our relationships, don’t know if there will ever be a winter on this planet again. Would I personally change my complicated liberty to a simpler life, with a sense of continuity ? Sometimes I think I would, but also I know that the freedom of our unsecure time is a great gift to someone like me. So I content myself, with making a dessert from the olden times, and have no more romantic yearnings for an imaginary simple life.
Stablemaster’s Gooseberry Soup
Berry soup is a very Finnish concept, and I don’t know whether it exists anywhere else. The traditional way to make it is to boil some berries, sieve through, and thicken the remaining juice with potato starch. After that some whole berries or fruits can still be added. This dessert, which for some reason is called Stablemaster’s Berry Soup, is traditionally made of gooseberries, but any other sauer – tasting berries can be used too, as well as rhubarb or apple. It doesn’t sound very luxurious, but somehow the sweet – and – sauer taste of gooseberries and the crispy bread crumbles are really delicious together.
The Gooseberry Soup
7 dl water + an additional 1/2 dl
3 dl gooseberries
3/4 dl sugar
3 tbsp potato starch
2 dl of dryish rye bread crumbles
1/2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp cocoa powder
a pinch of bourbon vanilla powder
oil for frying
soy cream, whipped up
I decided to make the berry soup in a really old -fashioned way, so that I would actually sieve it, since the gooseberries have these funny “tails” that would maybe not be so nice eaten. I started by boiling the berries in water about 5 minutes, until they had fallen apart for a bit. Then I put it through a sieve, and added the sugar. I diluted the potato starch to 1/2 dl water in a separate bowl. Then I took the berry soup pot from the stove, and poured in slowly the potato starch liquid, mixing the soup carefully in order to avoid lumps. Then I put the pot back to the stove and brought it to boiling temperature, so that I would just see the first bubble appearing on the surface. Then I took it off the stove. You should not boil it! I don’t know why, but this is the by – the – book way a Finnish berry soup is made.
As a condiment for the berry soup I made the bread crumbs: First I crumbled up some dried rye bread, and then fried it in oil on a frying pan, together with the sugar and cocoa powder. Then I poured the gooseberry soup into a bowl, and sprinkled it with the bread crumb mixture and whipped soy cream.
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