Kinderland Fruit Soup
Leon Rosenberg (Class of 1943)
"Fruit Soup" is almost certainly an invention of my father. I can not prove that, since he may well have learned it from someone prior than working as kitchen manager (See the note below.), buyer, etc., at Kinderland, and in a number of subsequent years at the other camps (Unity and Nitgedaiget (AKA Beacon)) where the fruit soup was a staple as well.
It was made in very large batches and stored in the walk in refrigerator in 40 gallon milk cans. As a young adult in the 1940s I worked with him at Beacon in the kitchen and had the responsibility for dishing out the fruit soup. It has become a staple of the summer diet for my family for whom I make it several times (alternating with a cold beet borsht) every spring and summer.
With that as the lengthy introduction, The core of the dish are the stone fruits when they come in (earlier in California than back east) Peaches, Apricots, Nectarines, are washed, depitted, sliced and briefly brought to a boil. One needs ripe fruit - but not over ripe. Amounts vary depending, of course, on how much soup one wants to make. The ultimate composition is significantly more dilute than for a 'compote.' The greater the variety of stone fruits the better (here in California we routinely get three or four different varieties of plums, ranging from green gage, through Santa Rosa, etc. etc.) Freestone peaches are easier than cling. Shortly before the cooking is complete one can add Cherries of whatever variety are available. They have to cook very briefly and can, though they needn't, be pitted. To the soup is added Pineapple juice, which gives it body and tartness. Roughly 10% by volume. A small can of pineapple chunks is also good. Note: no sugar is added, nor is it needed. If really good melons are available, melon balls can be added to the soup once it is chilled. Small amounts of good grapes don't hurt either. In my family the size of the pot determines the amount of soup I make, and I am using a six quart pot. At various times almost every other fruit has been added - although usually without it being cooked. Sliced bananas, orange sections, slices of really ripe mango, all work well - but the core of the soup are the stone fruits at the peak of the season. It gets better day by day, but has never lasted more than three without being totally consumed.
While we are on the subject, schav is impossible in California. it is sold in
the wholesale market only as a flavoring - one or two sour grass leaves. $24.00
lb!!!! So thank god for the fruit soup.
Note: I am told by Ricki (Meltzer) Greenblatt that the previous kitchen manager was Minnie Meltzer, Ricki's mom, who was also well know for her fruit soup, it is probable that Leon's father learned the recipe from Minnie.
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