I have had a sick child at home the past couple of days, which is unusual. She’s pretty tough, so when she complains of a scratchy throat or a headache, I tend to pay attention. Of course, it turned out to be strep throat and an ear infection, so I bundled her off to bed with some DVDs and my grandfather’s cure-all — a spoonful of honey mixed with lemon juice — to accompany the antibiotics.
It will sound strange, but I used to love being sick when I was a kid. My mom was the best caregiver; she would rub my achy back with cool rubbing alcohol, fix my favorite sick food (a soft boiled egg with cubes of toasted bread mashed into it), and let me curl up in the middle of her bed. For a sore throat, my dad would make me very thin milkshakes with coffee ice cream; that cold creaminess calmed my throbbing tonsils and the sugar perked me up enough to keep me awake during reruns of “Gilligan’s Island”.
The only part I did not like about being sick was the Vitamin D Cure, which involved sitting outside in the sunshine for 15 minutes. This was okay during the time we lived in Florida, but I still vividly remember having a bad cold at my grandmother’s house in New Jersey one winter and being made to sit in an aluminum lawn chair in the middle of the back yard wrapped up in a blanket, my breath hanging in a fog around my head.
It was cloudy today, so my daughter was saved from the Vitamin D Cure. Instead, I opted for some extra vitamin C and a shot of antioxidants by whipping up a chilled strawberry soup. This is a lovely little soup that I usually make as a starter for Christmas dinner; it is pretty and festive and makes a nice palate cleanser before eating a heavy meal. Even better, it takes about five minutes to make.
I make my strawberry soup with frozen berries. I am a big fan of frozen produce, which tends to retain more vitamin content because of being frozen quickly after being picked. This is not to say that I don’t prefer fresh broccoli over frozen, but some fruits and vegetables are good when frozen, at least for certain purposes. A strawberry soup is kind of like a soupy version of a smoothie, but just a bit more sophisticated. I like to soak the frozen berries in a couple of tablespoons of red wine for a few minutes, although white wine and even champagne are terrific alternatives. If you don’t want to use wine, then substitute a little orange juice.
Most importantly, a bowl of strawberry soup feels like a treat, and, when you are sick and grumpy and not feeling quite like yourself, then that is the time when you deserve a treat. Get well soon.
Chilled Strawberry Soup
1 bag of frozen strawberries
1/4 cup red wine (a Pinot works really well)
1 cup apple cider (use extra if needed to get the right consistency)
2 TB honey
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp. dried tarragon
Soak the frozen strawberries in the wine for 5 minutes, then pour them into a food processor or blender with the honey and 1/2 cup of the apple cider. Whiz together on high speed until the strawberries begin to smooth and add more cider a bit at a time until you get a thin soupy texture. Add the tarragon and vinegar and mix again for a few seconds. Strain the soup through a sieve into a bowl, using the back of a spoon to help push the mixture through the sieve if it gets clogged. Serve in a bowl garnished with a spoonful of creme fraiche or plain yogurt if desired.