Spring is here… Or at least, the weather showed us a sneak preview for a couple days, enough to ignite some thoughts about seasonal fruits. Strawberries! Always a reminder of the sunshine bathed fields of strawberries of my childhood. One day they were still greenish white, the next day pink, then bright shiny red. A lovely sight was seeing our turtle pet returning from her morning walk with strawberry juice all over her face. Then we ran to the fields to verify which strawberries had her signature. It was a fun time. Each week a new type of strawberry Mara, Gariguette, Ciflorette, Charlotte or other, each with their distinctive shape and flavor. Be sure to sample them on your next visit to France in strawberry season. For now, as much as such varieties are not available here in Chicago, I like to exalt the fragrance of the strawberries by preparing them as a dessert soup with lemongrass, mint and vanilla.
A welcome sign of spring. Enjoy as a light dessert, or snack, or accompaniment for brunch.
2 lb strawberries
1/2 oz fresh mint leaves
1 lemongrass stick
1/4 cup honey
1 cup water
1 vanilla bean
Remove the mint leaves from the stems, press the lemon to extract the juice and cut the lemongrass in 2-3 inch pieces. Reserve a few mint leaves for decoration.
Cut the vanilla in half lengthwise and scrape the pasty seeds with a knife.
Prepare the syrup by placing the fresh mint leaves, cut lemongrass, honey, water, lemon, and vanilla bean and seeds into a medium saucepan.
Bring to a boil and simmer.
Meanwhile rinse the strawberries, cut the stems and leaves and place them in a blender or food processor fitted with a steel blade. Reserve a few strawberries for decoration.
Process until you obtain a very smooth puree, and pour into a bowl.
Remove the syrup from the stove and pour it through a strainer into the pureed strawberries. Discard the cooked leaves, lemongrass and vanilla bean.
Mix well. At this time it can be prepared ahead and stored, covered, in the refrigerator.
For the presentation, cut the stem and leaves off the strawberries at an angle, forming a V cut into the heart of the strawberry. Then slice them to obtain heart-shaped pieces.
Display the heart-shaped slices on top of the strawberry soup, along with a few mint leaves and serve at once. Enjoy!