Sour Cherry Soup

From Food, Family and Tradition: Hungarian Kosher Family Recipes and Remembrances by Lynn Kirsche Shapiro (The Cherry Press LLC) Yield:  12 servings (2 quarts total)
Prep Time:  20 minutes Cook Time:  30 minutes

Sour Cherry Soup

“This soup is made from the particular variety of cherries, sour cherries, which were abundant ‘at home.’ My mother’s maternal grandparents had a sour cherry tree in their backyard in Gergely, Hungary. Her family cooked this soup during the months of July and August when the cherries ripened. A very fancy soup, it should be served in small portions and for special occasions. Many recipes call for adding a few cloves along with cinnamon, which adds a spicy fragrance to the soup. Sour cherry soup is light and refreshing and can be served hot or cold, as an appetizer, before the meal, or as a dairy dessert. Garnish it, as my cousin Ibi’s mother Goldie did, with a fresh mint leaf on top.”—Lynn Kirsche Shapiro

From the Test Kitchen:
Canned and jarred sour cherries are easier to find than fresh. The prep time listed at the beginning of this recipe is for canned or jarred cherries. If you use fresh, allow enough time to pit 1½ to 2 pounds of cherries.


1½ to 2 pounds sour cherries, pitted (see Kitchen Tip)

6 cups water

½ cup sugar

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 cinnamon stick or dash of cinnamon

1 cup sour cream

Pinch of salt

1 tablespoon flour, optional

Fresh mint leaves, as needed, optional garnish


  1. In a 6- to 8-quart saucepan combine cherries, water, sugar, lemon juice, and cinnamon. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  2. Decrease heat to low and simmer for about 20 minutes until the cherries are cooked and the soup becomes flavorful. Remove the cinnamon stick and discard.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the sour cream and salt. The flour will make a thicker, fuller soup, but it is not a necessity. If you want to add the flour, add it to the sour cream mixture and mix well, so that the sour cream is creamy.
  4. Ladle out about 1 cup of liquid from the 
hot cherry soup. Add it very slowly to the sour cream mixture, beginning by adding 1 tablespoon at a time for about 6 tablespoons, and then ¼ cup at a time, mixing constantly after each addition to maintain the creamy consistency. Then add the sour cream mixture to the simmering soup, mixing constantly so it does not curdle. Heat through.
  5. Serve hot in small bowls, or chill in an ice-water bath and refrigerate covered. Serve cold garnished with a fresh mint leaf. If you wish to reheat after refrigerating, reheat on very low heat to prevent curdling.

Kitchen Tips

Author Lynn Kirshe Shapiro notes:

  1. “My mother originally added 1 egg yolk to the sour cream mixture, because she believed it made a richer soup. I have omitted it from the recipe, because we do not use uncooked eggs today. If you wish, beat 1 pasteurized egg yolk into the sour cream mixture and serve it immediately.”
  2. Instead of using fresh sour cherries, you can make a quicker variation
 of this soup with canned or jarred sour cherries. Drain 2 (15-ounce) cans of sour cherries, reserving the cherries and juice. Measure juice and add enough water to equal 6 cups total liquid. Add ⅓ cup sugar, a dash of cinnamon or
 1 cinnamon stick and 1 teaspoon lemon juice. Bring the cherries and the liquid to a boil and cook for
 5 minutes. Now prepare the sour cream mixture as above and add the sour cream mixture to the soup.
  3. Add more cherries for a richer flavor. Add 4 cloves along with the cinnamon stick and discard them, after soup is cooked, along with the cinnamon stick.

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