Make Ahead

Jewish Plum Soup with Sour Cream

August  1, 2010
Author Notes

Among my father's favorites from among the recipes his mother used to make when he was a child is this chilled soup, which he calls by its Yiddish name, pomella. I've added lemon verbena, which I think makes it even more alluring. My childhood friend Emily makes this and freezes the leftovers in popsicle molds for her kids!

Use flavorful, dark flesh plum varieties, such as Santa Rosa. This soup is a great way to use up plums that have gone a little too ripe. This recipe is adapted from my book, Farmers' Market Desserts. - JSCooks —JSCooks

Test Kitchen Notes

This is one of the best summer soups I’ve ever had! It has a perfect balance of sweet and tart without having too much of either one. I wasn’t able to find any lemon verbena and so used the lemon peel as recommended, and while I was very happy with the results, I can see that the verbena would a little herb flavor that would be sensational. I used the Crème de Cassis and loved the deepening of late summer flavors it provided. It was very easy and quick to make as long as you plan for the time for it to chill in the refrigerator. - Chez Suzanne —The Editors

  • Serves 6 to 8
  • 4 cups water
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • a few twists of black pepper
  • 2 pounds firm-ripe plums, pitted and coarsely chopped
  • 1 sprig lemon verbena, about 4 inches long, or a 4-inch strip of lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons crème de cassis or other berry liqueur (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, crème fraîche, or Greek-style whole milk yogurt, for serving
  • 4 sprigs (small) mint or lemon verbena, for garnish
In This Recipe
  1. Put the water, sugar, salt, and pepper in a large, heavy, nonreactive saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the plums, bring back to a boil, then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Skim off any foam that rises to the top, then simmer, stirring occasionally, until the fruit is very soft and falling apart, about 20 minutes.
  2. Remove from the heat and stir in the 4-inch lemon verbena sprig or strip of lemon zest. Let cool for about 20 minutes, tasting occasionally and removing the lemon verbena (or zest) when its flavor has perfumed the soup to your liking. It should be a delicate background note, not a predominant flavor.
  3. Puree the soup until smooth using an immersion blender, standard blender, or food processor. Stir in the liqueur if using it, and the lemon zest and juice. Cover and refrigerate until very cold, about 4 hours or up to 4 days.
  4. Ladle the chilled soup into shallow bowls. Top each serving with a dollop of sour cream and a mint sprig.
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