Monday 15 December 2008

apricot summer soup

This soup is a gorgeous summer dessert, but its richness means you should only serve it in small quantities.

This is my recipe for the special festive edition of Weekend Herb Blogging where we are asked to submit special recipes for the holiday season.

I’d like to think this dessert could be served as a light ending to any summer BBQ or dinner party, or a pre-dessert before the pudding at a Southern Hemisphere Christmas (don’t forget it’s summer down here).

It’s easy to make in advance and can stay in a sealed container in the fridge for over a week. That makes it the perfect impromptu dessert in my books.

Like many of my latest posts, this recipe fills two 2008 Food Challenge criterion, since it is a fruit soup invention and uses amardine, also known as qamar el-deen and apricot leather (blogged previously).

The amardine dissolves and thickens the soup nicely, while allowing the apples to retain some texture. The apricots should be plump and soft, but still have a little texture too.

Apricot Summer Soup

Anna’s very own recipe. 10 very small serves. 
200g semi-dried apricots, finely chopped
1 tart apple, peeled and grated
50g amardine / qamar el-deen
375ml water
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ cup sugar
Juice and rind of 1 lemon
100ml pouring cream


1. Combine the dried apricots, amardine, grated apple, lemon rind and cinnamon in a saucepan with 375ml water.

2. Bring to the boil then simmer for 20 minutes until apricots and apple are soft and the amardine has dissolved.

3. Taste the mixture and gradually add sugar to create the desired sweetness. Stir until dissolved.

4. Add lemon juice and taste again.

5. When desire sweetness is reached, cool then remove the lemon rind.

6. Serve chilled with swirls of pouring cream.

My Weekend Herb Blogging ingredient is clearly the apricot.

The apricots botanical name, Prunus armeniaca, translates to Armenian plum, even though it’s believed the apricot originated in western China and Central Asia

Indians were probably the first cultivators at around 3000BC, although the Silk Road traders brought it into Armenia, where it was grown since ancient times.

Alexander the Great’s armies probably brought apricots to Greece and from there it spread to Rome and beyond. Persians made dried apricots an important trade and Spanish missionaries introduced apricots to the American west coast.

Apricots are more cold-tolerant than peaches although their early flowering means spring frost can cause damage.

Apricot kernels are also edible and have a strong almond flavour. In many Middle Eastern countries they are commonly eaten and in Italy both the famous almond flavoured liqueur and biscuits (Amaretto and Amaretti) are made from apricot kernels.

Like plums, apricots are high in fibre and can have laxative effects after as little as three fruits. Anyone who has ever eaten too many organic dried apricots knows about that side effect!

The English word apricot has a long etymological history. Pliny called apricots praecocia or praecoquus "cooked or ripened early" which became al-barqūq in Arabic then albaricoque in Spanish, via the Moors, finally onto French’s abricot and then Middle English abrecock which eventually became apricot. What a journey!

In 2005, the top ten producers of apricots were (in order) Turkey, Iran, Italy, Pakistan, Greece, France, Algeria, Spain, Japan and Morocco. A diverse and surprising group!

Strangely enough, American soldiers are very superstitions about apricots and tanks. Sherman tanks apparently broke down when canned apricots were nearby and ever since the drivers will not eat them, allow them near the tanks nor even say the word!

This week, our WHB host is Haalo from Cook (almost) Anything At Least Once. Be sure to visit the round-up for an amazing selection of festive recipes.



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