Thanks to imperial China, we have this delicately flavored peach soup that can be served hot or cold.
While it may seem criminal to cook ‘Saturn’ peaches*, this 18th century Chinese recipe (from the court of the Ch’ing Dynasty) takes full advantage of their delicate flavor. It makes a great starter course either hot or cold. The following is an adaptation.
6 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
2 cups peach juice (or water)
2 tbsp butter (the Chinese use lard)
1 pound peaches, pared, seeded and chopped into small pieces
1 tbsp rose water
Combine the sugar, cornstarch and juice or water in a work bowl, whisking until the starch is completely dissolved. Heat the butter in a deep saucepan until it melts, then add the sugar mixture. Add the peaches and cook over medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes, or until soft. Pour this mixture into a blender or food processor and purée until smooth and creamy. Return the soup to the saucepan and bring it to a gentle boil. Remove from heat and add the rose water. Serve immediately or chill to serve cold.
Serves 4 to 6 as a starter.
*You may substitute another variety of fresh peach, but canned peaches will not work in this recipe.