One of the earliest springtime treats are luscious ripe berries. Though the image of raspberries, blackberries and blueberries readily come to mind, the term berry refers to small edible fruits, such as tomatoes and grapes. Packed full of vitamins and minerals, asides from being good for you, sweet berries can be enjoyed just on their own but like any of our favorite foods, berries are a source of culinary inspiration. The challenge for May's No Croutons Required was to come up with a soup or salad featuring berries. A special thanks to all who contributed their lovely creations! Though the choice is never an easy one, please vote for your favorite in the comment section, or via email so we can crown a winner. Please note that neither my contribution, nor Holler's, is eligible for voting.
Our very first entry is this summery chilled Gazpacho Soup from Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen. A perfect soup to prepare when you want something easy but refreshing to beat the heat, this nutritious blend of cucumber, tomatoes, green pepper, onion, almonds, lemon juice, cilantro, basil, cumin and red pepper flakes is light but satisfying, especially served with some crusty bread and you don't even need to turn on the stove. (Goa, India)
Next up is Astra with this inspired Chilled Blueberry-Cocoa Dessert Soup. Another no cook soup for your repertoire, combined are the raw goodness of blueberries, bananas, yogurt, cocoa and honey. Chocolate and blueberries. But of course! I'd be delighted to eat this for breakfast. lunch or dinner. (The Deep South, USA)
Priya contributes this gorgeous Gingery Berry Soup. Yogurt, strawberries, raspberries and orange juice are blended together and then combined with honey, cinnamon, ginger, and star anise. This delightful summer soup is then garnished with a bit of nutmeg and whipping cream. Easy, elegant and good for you! (Paris, France)
Parita comes up with this lovely Strawberry and Tomato Soup that proved to be a satisfying and quick meal solution after a long day at work. Pureed tomatoes and strawberries are boiled together with a wee bit of sugar, chili powder and some salt. This colourful and refreshing soup can be served with a side salad and some bread. (Basel, Switzerland)
Soma of eCurry goes gourmet and submits this stunning Spiced Strawberry Soup with Mint Cream and Choco-Nut Crisps. Inspired by a recipe she found in a magazine, Soma's soup consists of strawberries, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, orange juice, ginger and mint. The simmered and chilled soup is then served with a dollop of mint yogurt cream and some delightful pieces of almond chocolate crisps. (Texas, USA)
My own contribution is this Fresh Fruit and Berry Soup. Plump cherries, blueberries, raspberries, grapes, apples, plums, dried apricots, and freshly squeezed lemon juice are simmered together and then whirled into a smoothie like soup with freshly squeezed orange juice and some goat cheese. Packed full of vitamins, this refreshing soup can be served chilled or warm, for dinner, breakfast or dessert. (London, Ontario, Canada)
Happy Cook offers up this tempting Rhubarb Soup with Strawberry Ice Cream. This dessert soup is made by simmering together rhubarb, sweet wine and sugar. This pureed mixture is then served over fresh strawberries and topped with a healthy dollop of homemade strawberry ice cream. Who could resist this summer treat? (Belgium)
My co-host Holler came up with this delightful Strawberry and Fruit Soup for this month's challenge. Strawberries, blueberries, pears, freshly squeezed lemon juice, honey, balsamic vinegar and ground cinnamon are quickly pureed together and served with some Greek yogurt. This delicious dessert soup will satisfying your sweet tooth without adding extra pounds to your waistline. Clearly a winner! (Scotland, UK)
This unique Stamnaggathi, Strawberry and Cashew Salad, our first fruit salad of the roundup, comes from Ivy of Kopiaste. Stamnaggathi is a wild green that is native to Crete. Ivy tells us it is mildly bitter with a hint of sweetness. For this salad, some raw stamnaggathi is combined with rocket, strawberries and honey and dressed with a strawberry vinaigrette consisting of olive oil, honey, balsamic vinegar, pomegranate molasses, a bit of garlic and strawberries. As if I needed yet another reason to want to go to Greece! (Athens, Greece)
Johanna of Green Gourmet Giraffe is very busy these days with a newborn baby girl, but she still found the time to come up with this healthy and satisfying Cauliflower, Cranberry, Feta and Walnut Salad. Steamed cauliflower, fresh herbs, cranberries, walnuts, feta, fresh lemon juice and olive oil are tossed together and served with some heavenly Polenta cups with Pea Puree. Sounds like a mighty fine meal to me. (Melbourne, Australia)
From Jennifer of Savor the Thyme we have this refreshing Pepita and Cranberry Salad. Romaine lettuce, baby spinach, tomato, dried cranberries, feta, sunflower seeds, toasted pumpkin seeds, and flax seeds are all tossed together resulting in a beautiful salad that would make a fine accompaniment to any lunch or dinner. (Rhode Island, USA)
Frances of Crunchy Green Things cooks up these gorgeous Red Groats. German in origin, and a cross between a compote, stew and pudding, this soupy combination of cherries, grape juice, sugar, lemon zest and juice, wine, corn flour and mixed berries can be served for dessert with some warm vanilla custard, or even for breakfast. Irresistible! (Australia)
Sweatha of Tasty Curry Leaf sends along this delightful and refreshing Strawberry Pepper Salad. Strawberries and onion are marinaded in soy sauce, garlic, pepper, salt and chili flakes and then pan fried and tossed with cucumber, paneer and a bit of cilantro. This tangy and tart salad is a perfect accompaniment to a spring or summer meal. (Bangalore, India)
Last, but certainly not least, Chow comes up with this mouthwatering Berry Soup with Cake Croutons. Strawberries, blueberries, orange juice, agave nectar and fresh mint are whirled together and then chilled. No croutons are required, but how creative to serve this soup topped with cake croutons to add a bit of extra sweetness to this bowl of goodness! (San Francisco Bay Area, USA)
Holler will be hosting the June edition of No Croutons Required. Check back at the end of the month for the theme.