Chilled Cherry Soup with Cardamom, Meggyleves

The origins of this chilled cherry soup are Hungarian. But I came to know this dish by way of a memorable Christmas breakfast with Paul’s family. Between courses of oyster stew and cardamom bread, there was a mysterious ruby-hued soup. Combining the warmth of cardamom with the sweet tartness of cherries, this Chilled Cherry Soup is tangy, vivid, and refreshing: a lovely foil to the richness of holiday feasting.

Yield: Serves 8


  • 5 cups water
  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh or frozen pitted tart cherries
  • 3 tablespoons sugar (add more or less depending on the sweetness of your cherries)
  • 3 cardamom pods (or 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom)
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick (or 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon)
  • 2 whole cloves (or 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves)
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • ½ cup sour cream (may substitute cream, yogurt, Creme Fraiche)
  • Juice from half a lemon (1-2 tablespoons)


  1. Fill a large saucepan with 5 cups water. Add the cherries, sugar, cardamom, cinnamon and cloves.  Bring to a boil, and reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. 
  2. Whisk together the cornstarch and water in a small bowl until no lumps remain.
  3. Whisk the cornstarch slurry into the simmering cherry soup and whisk one minute until combined. 
  4. Remove the soup from heat. If using using whole spices, remove at this point. Add the sour cream.  Puree in a food processor, blender or with an immersion blender.  We like a silk-smooth texture with this  soup and like to strain it after pureeing, but this is a up to your personal preference.
  5. Add lemon juice to taste and refrigerate the soup covered until cold, approximately 4 hours.
  6. Serve cold in small containers. Whipped cream, mint, or cherries all make for good toppings.