Years ago, I used to purchase an orange peach fruit juice. The orange peach combination was delicious and I was disappointed when the juice was discontinued. When I came across the recipe for Orange Peach Soup, I remembered the fruit juice from long ago and knew I had to try the recipe. Unfortunately, it was the middle of winter so I had to wait a few months. You don't have to wait, though, because peaches peak in July and August making it the perfect time to make a batch of this soup.
The best way to buy peaches is with your eyes, nose and hands. Look for unblemished peaches without any traces of green. Peaches have a rosy blush on the surface, but that's indicative of the variety and has nothing to do with ripeness. Smell the peaches. A ripe peach smells like a peach. If there's little or no fragrance, keep smelling until you find peaches with a peach aroma. Feel the peaches and apply a little pressure with your hand. You don't want the peaches to be too soft, but you don't want them to be too hard either. Buy peaches that yield slightly to pressure.
Peaches come in white and yellow varieties and can be used interchangeably. I prefer yellow peaches because they tend to be juicier and more flavorful. Peaches are sold as either clingstone or freestone. The terms describe how easy it is to remove the pit from the fruit. A clingstone tends to cling whereas a freestone is easy to remove.
Peel, slice and puree the peaches with lemon juice in a blender. The lemon juice keeps the peaches from turning brown while the rest of the ingredients are being prepared.
Combine water, instant tapioca, sugar and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and add the remaining ingredients, including the peach puree. Let the soup cool to room temperature -- to speed up the process, I transfer the soup from the warm saucepan to a bowl -- and then refrigerate.
If the only tapioca you're familiar with is pudding, you may be wondering why it's used in this recipe. Tapioca is a starch used to thicken food. Instant tapioca looks like little pellets.
Although tapioca does a great job thickening the soup, the pellets don't completely dissolve. If you don't mind the texture, you can serve the soup as it is. If you're like me and prefer a smoother soup, there's an easy solution.
After the soup is completely chilled -- I make it a day ahead and refrigerate it overnight -- taste it to see if it's sweet enough. Some peaches are sweeter than others so you may need to add additional sugar.
Pour the soup into a blender container and add sugar, if necessary, one teaspoon at a time, blending until the sugar is dissolved. Taste the soup after each addition to make sure you don't add too much sugar. Using a blender pulverizes the sugar and the tapioca at the same time. If the soup doesn't need any additional sugar, you can still process it in a blender to achieve a smoother consistency.
The soup makes a great first course, especially when the meal that follows is light. It can also be served as an entree with a salad -- green, tuna or chicken -- and croissants. My husband likes to pour the soup over ice and drink it as a beverage. It makes a thick beverage, but my husband finds it extremely refreshing after working in the yard on a hot summer day.
No matter how you serve it, this soup is definitely flavorful and refreshing. Peach season is short so enjoy this soup while peaches are at the peak of flavor.
Taste the chilled soup to see if more sugar is needed. Add 1 teaspoon of sugar at a time, if necessary, and process in a blender until smooth. Serve garnished with fresh mint sprigs, if desired.