So, the Easter Bunny showed up in a mask this year. Weird, right?
If you’re longing for a touchstone to normalcy — or just something to put a smile on your face in a time of unprecedented distress — strawberries might be just the thing.
That’s right — spring’s firstborn fruit didn’t get the memo about the world spinning off its axis. South Carolina’s strawberry fields are yielding beautiful baskets of sweet, juicy, ruby red diamonds, and just in time, I’d say.
For the next few weeks (and the clock is ticking), shortcake weighted with mounds of fruit and whipped cream will be served in households across the region. For hardcore afficionados, some days it could be what’s for dinner — or breakfast or lunch or middle of the night insomniac snack (guilty).
But there’s still something else that makes strawberry season the perfect antidote for our social distancing blues. While our options for enjoyment have been whittled down considerably (and necessarily so), when it comes to ways to bask in strawberry goodness, we have choices!
Strawberries are like that cool friend from high school who fit in anywhere and managed to always look good doing so. Cobblers, ice cream, pie, cake, muffins, breads, jams, crepes — strawberries just click.
One of my favorite ways to get a strawberry fix is with a dish that’s cold and requires a spoon. Strawberry soup is like the best of springtime in a bowl. While I’ve sampled many renditions over the years, my hands-down favorite comes from my friend, Katherine Brown, at Bloomsbury Inn in Camden. And she’s not shy about touting it as the best strawberry soup you’ll ever eat.
If you’ve had the pleasure of being a guest at this beautiful bed and breakfast, I know you agree. Here, Katherine shares her ridiculously easy recipe. Note: Don’t be put off by the buttermilk — it’s what makes this soup a standout.
Fresh Strawberry Soup
2 pints of strawberries
¾ cup of orange juice (not from concentrate)
¼ cup sugar
4 cups buttermilk
2 small containers of good quality vanilla yogurt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Mint sprigs (for garnish)
Whipped cream (the real stuff)
Wash the strawberries well in cold water, then drain and hull with a teaspoon. In a blender, mix all the ingredients (except mint and whipped cream) until smooth. (Depending on the size of your blender, this might require that you divide the ingredients and process in two batches.) Transfer the blended ingredients into an airtight container and refrigerate at least four hours to chill thoroughly. (This soup tastes best served very cold.) Serve in a champagne glass, fruit dish or soup bowl. Dollop with whipped cream and garnish with a sprig of mint.
Now, go snag fresh strawberries from a farmers’ market, grocery store or local strawberry patch, and shop for ingredients using your preferred method (while employing expert social distancing and hygiene protocols, of course). Then, pick some spring flowers from the garden, take out the pretty dishes and set a springtime table worthy of this elegant and flavorful strawberry treat.
Brush your hair and forgo the sweatpants. Fresh strawberry soup is special and, after all we’ve been through lately, you and yours deserve to feel that way, too.