Wild Sand Plum Dessert Soup with Persimmon Cream

When cooking with Odessa Piper at her restaurant, L’Etoile, in Madison, Wisconsin, we talked about Euell Gibbons’ Stalking the Wild Asparagus, and how much it had been an inspiration in the seventies when we started cooking. So in the middle of winter, I stalked her kitchen and came up with some amazing ingredients she had put away to save the flavors of summer for the winter menus. The wild sand plum puree she had frozen was one of the best fruit flavors I had ever tasted. Right, I thought, a soup!

If you don’t have sand plums, use the ripest, most flavorful, plums you can find at a farmer’s market, cook them with sugar for 10 minutes, puree, and use fresh or freeze. The amount of sugar added should leave the puree still with a good bite of acidity.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup dried, organic, sulfur-free persimmons
  • 2 cups light simple syrup*
  • ¼ cup fresh or dried heavily scented red or pink rose petals
  • 2 ripe red Bartlett pears
  • 1 cup thick crème fraîche, sour cream, or mascarpone
  • salt
  • 2 cups sweetened plum puree (see note at right)
  • ¼ cup wild huckleberry puree, strained
  • 8 sugared rose petals (optional)

Method

In a small saucepan, combine the persimmons with 1 cup of the syrup. Simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and puree to the point that there are still a few small chunks of persimmon. Strain, reserving the puree and the chunks separately.

Warm the remaining 1 cup syrup in a small saucepan and add the rose petals. Remove from the heat and let stand for 15 minutes.

Cut the pears in half; remove the stem, core, and seeds. Pass the fruit through a mandoline or vegetable cutter to make -inch sticks. Put the pear sticks in the rose syrup.

Mix the chunked persimmon with the crème fraîche. Add just enough of the persimmon puree so that it flavors the cream without thinning it down too much. Mix in a pinch of salt.

Divide the plum puree among 4 large, chilled soup plates. Spoon the persimmon cream into the center. Drain the pears with the rose petals and spoon them over the cream. Drizzle a little of the remaining persimmon puree over the pears. Then drizzle on the huckleberry puree. Decorate the top of each with 2 of the sugared rose petals.

* To make a light simple syrup, combine 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the syrup. Remove from the heat and let cool. This can be made days ahead and stored in a covered jar in the refrigerator.

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