Originating in Hungarian cuisine, it is a dessert disguised as soup and is a summer delicacy in several European cuisines. Sour Cherry Soup has been adopted by the Austrians, Poles, Slovaks, and Germans. Hungarian-Americans and Hungarian-Canadians brought the soup to the New World.
In Hungarian cuisine, Sour Cherry Soup or Meggyleves is a soup made from the fruits of the sour cherry tree, and not from sweet cherries. Hungarian Cherry Soup is a slightly sweet soup made with sour cream, sugar and whole fresh sour cherries, and served chilled. It is so popular among Hungarians that packets of dried Meggyleves powder are also sold in Hungary. The name is formed from meggy meaning sour-cherries or morellos, and leves meaning soup. Sour cherry trees are numerous in Hungary, and the soup is a good example of the quintessentially Hungarian fusion of Eastern/Asian influences and traditional Continental European cuisine.
It is traditionally served as a dinner course, usually as either the appetizer or soup, and sometimes dessert, on warm summer nights or for hot summer luncheons. The soup is cooked with whole sour cherries, including the pits. It is customary that the soup contains fresh sour cherries, fresh cream and sometimes cloves and cinnamon. You can use canned regular cherries and substitute sour cream for fresh cream to make it easy on yourself. For variation you can also opt for a dash of sweet white or dry red wine before serving.
The beautiful cherry red and pink hues of this soup simply makes the Hungarian dish eye candy, and aesthetically fits into any summer picnic or even a Fourth of July Celebration. Serve it in classic Hungarian style, or serve the soup disguised as dessert. Better yet, fill little verrines with the soup and serve as a little appetizer sip when you have company (It’s recommended you use pitted cherries when serving this way).
1 3⁄4 lbs. fresh Bing cherries, or 1 1⁄2 lbs. frozen Bing cherries with 2 3⁄4 cups sour or regular cherry juice (Alternatively you can use 2 (24-oz.) jars of pitted sour cherries (preferably morellos), with their juice)
2 cups water
1⁄2 tsp. kosher salt
2 stick cinnamon
4-5 pieces of cloves
1 slice (1⁄2"-thick) lemon
1 (8-oz.) container sour cream
- If using fresh cherries, add the cherries and the sugar to 2 cups of water in a large saucepan (eliminate the water if using other forms of cherries). Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and add the cinnamon sticks, cloves, salt, and lemon to the cherry soup. Cook it for about 10 minutes or until the cherries are soft.
- In a small bowl, whisk together sour cream and 1⁄4 cup of hot cherry liquid from pan. Remove pan from heat; stir in sour cream mixture. Chill the soup.