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Amelie recipe: Chilled strawberry and mascarpone soup with mint

Strawberry picking as a child was always the highlight of the start of the summer holidays. There was a small plot of land next to my school in Bury St Edmunds where we used to go. It was where we all went as kids. Seeing school friends in a non-school environment, doing something constructive, felt slightly odd. Friendships that might not have bloomed in the restrictions of the school playground were freely explored here.

Strawberries evoke nostalgia in many of us. They grow well in the UK during the hotter months and have been in our recipes for generations. Strawberries have a long history in the UK, dating back to Roman times when they were valued for their medicinal properties. In the medieval period, they were grown in monastic gardens and served at royal banquets. By the 17th century, new varieties, including the garden strawberry (a hybrid from North America), became popular.

Amelie’s chilled strawberry and mascarpone soup with mint
Amelie’s chilled strawberry and mascarpone soup with mint

In the 18th and 19th centuries, strawberries became widely cultivated and transported via the railway system, particularly thriving in Kent. During the Victorian era, strawberries became a summer staple, often enjoyed with cream, a tradition that continues at Wimbledon. In the 20th century, advancements in agriculture extended the strawberry season. Strawberries remain a beloved part of British culture.

As kids, we envied those who grew strawberries in their gardens, thinking they had an endless supply. We would pretend to be excavators or archaeologists, delicately searching through the leaves to find hidden berries.

Fruits often play a supporting role in desserts, but strawberries can stand alone. Think of strawberries and cream, strawberries and chocolate, or strawberries with balsamic vinegar. The strawberry often takes centre stage.

Back home, my dad would never create the same dish twice, a common practice in French culture. Leftovers wouldn’t be prepared like the previous day; a new dish would be made. As strawberries were so common during the warmer months, offering strawberries with red wine and balsamic vinegar could quickly become tedious. This strawberry soup was a perfect, easy solution and one of the better ways to enjoy it.

In exciting news, we recently took over a café and a restaurant in Bens Yard. We have a bustling café where we sell cakes and tarts. Although strawberry soup won’t be on the menu, we will champion the fruit through our French tarts. We have also taken over the restaurant, which will have a new menu from June 12th, offering light dishes influenced by flavours worldwide. We very much look forward to seeing you there soon!

Chilled strawberry

and mascarpone soup with mint

Serves 4

450g ripe strawberries, hulled

25g granulated sugar

Juice of 1 lemon

125ml red wine

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Few sprigs of fresh mint, thinly

Sliced, plus extra for decoration

200ml whipping cream

30g icing sugar

Seeds from ½ vanilla pod

100g mascarpone cheese

Put 250g strawberries in a pan with the sugar and lemon juice.

Cook gently over a low heat for 2–3 minutes, until the sugar has

dissolved. Pour everything into a blender and blitz to a purée.

Transfer to a large bowl and then set aside to cool. When the soup

is cool, stir in the red wine, balsamic vinegar and mint. Cut the

remaining strawberries into quarters and add them to the soup.

Whip the cream in a bowl with the icing sugar and vanilla seeds,

then fold it gently into the mascarpone.

Ladle the soup into 4 shallow soup plates or glass bowls. Soak a

soup spoon in hot water, then dip it into the mascarpone mixture

to make an oval ‘quenelle’ and place one on top of each bowl of

soup. Decorate with sprigs of fresh mint and serve immediately.”

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