Monday 10 September 2007


Meggyleves is a traditional Hungarian cherry soup made in summer, when the cherries are abundant, and usually eaten as an entrée (starter). It’s served cold.

Ever since I first heard of this dish from one of my Hungarian relatives, Ákos, I have been fascinated and eager to make it. I found it difficult to imagine eating this as an entrée, since it seemed so sweet in nature, but the important factor is the type of cherries.

In Hungary they use Morello cherries to ensure a sour-tart flavour, however you could use any sour cherry such as Montmonrency (most common sour cherry in North America) or Early Richmond.

If you can’t get your hands on any sour cherries, you can use sweet cherries but then you’ll need to serve the soup as a dessert because it won’t have the required acidity. It will still taste wonderful, but it will be much sweeter and therefore serves a different purpose.

I absolutely love the sweet version as a summer dessert. It’s divine.

It’s an old recipe and therefore there are as many versions as there are Hungarian families. In fact it’s so popular Knorr even sell it as packet soups!

Some traditional recipes reserve the cherry pits, wrap them in muslin then crack them a little before putting them in the soup. The kernels have a delicate almond flavour which adds an additional complexity to the flavour. Nowadays you can add a dash of almond essence instead.

For a slightly thicker soup the old recipes blend half the cherries with the soup liquid or add egg yolks to the cream, while I noticed many North American versions used potato or corn flour.

The North American versions also seemed to omit the wine (a dry red, preferably from Eger) and reduced the cream too. I suppose this was to make the recipe quicker and more cost effective.

Here’s my version:

Meggyleves (Hungarian Cherry Soup)
Anna’s adaptation of Anne Sheasby's recipe. Serves 6 for starter.

1kg sour cherries, pitted
750ml (3 cups) dry red wine
250ml (1 cup) water
250ml (1 cup) pouring cream
125ml (½ cup) crème fraîche
½ cup sugar
1-2 cinnamon sticks
1. Combine in a large pot water, cherries, sugar, red wine and cinnamon.
2. Bring to the boil then lightly simmer for approx. 20 minutes until cherries are tender. Remove from the heat.
3. In a separate bowl, combine pouring cream and crème fraîche to create a smooth mix.
4. Stir mixture into the soup and then refrigerate until serving.
5. Serve with a little crème fraîche on top.

This is my entry to the annual Super Soup Challenge, hosted by Tami from Running With Tweezers. A great event since it celebrates one of my favourite things to eat: soup!



  1. this soup looks beautiful and is something i will definitely try if i ever get my hands on sour cherries!

  2. Arhghgh! Cherry season is over for us, but that Knorr soup packet! I have never seen it at the supermarket! Hehe, if this means the only way to get my hands on this is to fly to Hungary, then I best start convincing my husband how good this Meggyleves will taste. ;-)

  3. Oh, this is one of my absolute favourites! I have eaten it several times last year but just forgot about them this year...Too late now but yours look so good so that I can almost taste it!

  4. wonderful! How on earth did you get sour cherries right now in Sydney? You must have powerful connections with the green grocer ;-) I saw some from USA cherries but they were so dear. Can't wait for cherries to be in abundance, I have cherry fever! ;-)

  5. becky - if you can't find sour cherries just try it with sweet cherries as a dessert (just increase the sugar a litte).

    rowena - i suspect it's only available in hungary. you might have to start some serious sweet talking!

    vonsachen - i can't wait for the cherry season to start in australia. i'll make enough for both of us!

    nora - i must confess i made this a while ago and haven't blogged it until now. plus, i did use sweet cherries for this particular photo. can't ever find morellos in sydney!

  6. Years ago there was a resturant in Boston, MA named the "Cafe Budapest" and they had the best sour cherry soup. I'm hoping this will be the same.

  7. Just made this yesterday and ate it today. Cherries weren't sour, and I blended about half of them with the "broth" right after cooking. Fantastic result. Thanks for the recipe. I'll try your blueberry one sometime this wek.


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