Rabu, 30 Januari 2008

Kissel aka Cranberry Fruit Soup

Kissel ('kissell' in Estonian) is a sweet soup (dessert soup or fruit soup, however you call it) popular in these parts of the world. A thinner kissel (my mum makes an excellent rhubarb one - rabarbrikissell - for instance) can be drunk straight from a cup as sweet injection. A thicker kissel is served alongside many puddings - and as I'm planning to tell you about a very special Estonian pudding in a few days, I'm going to tell you about kissel first. Note, however, that it's not the first time a kissel appears here on Nami-nami, oh no. Last September I told you about a curd cheese and apple souffle, which was also served in a bright puddle of fruit soup, too.

I like my kissel a bit on the sour side, so I tend to use redcurrant juice, cranberries, rhubarb or lingonberries as a starting base. I found some local cranberries (Vaccinium oxycoccus, which are tiny compared to the huge US cranberries, Vaccinium macrocarpon - see photo here) in a freezer (picked by ourselves, of course), and used these. The resulting kissel had a perfect balance of acidic and sweet, plus a beautiful, beautiful colour..

Cranberry Fruit Soup
Makes 1,5 litres

500 ml (2 cups) cranberries (fresh or frozen)
1.5 Litres of water
300 ml (1¼ cups) caster sugar
100 ml potato starch
100 ml cold water

Bring water into boil in a large saucepan, add cranberries and cook for about 5 minutes, until the berries are softened.
Drain(keep the juice!), pressing the cooked cranberries through the sieve. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan.
Add sugar, simmer for 5 minutes.
Mix the potato starch* with cold water. Take the saucepan off the heat and pour the starch mixture in a thin stream into the cranberry juice, stirring constantly to avoid lumps.
Place the saucepan back to the hob and heat gently, until the first bubbles appear.
Remove from the heat, and pour immediately into small bowls or a jug. Sprinkle some caster sugar on top (this keeps the 'skin' from forming).
Cool before serving.

* You can also use Maizena/cornflour, but it won't give you as clear kissel. Also, if using cornflour, remember you must cook the kissel for a few minutes to start thickening.

Cranberry kissel with curd cheese. All three photos by K.