Citrus Fruit Soup with Dates and Mint by Joan Nathan
6 to 8 servings
When I interviewed Gilles Choukroun, one of the darlings of a new generation of French chefs who are injecting playfulness into French food, he had just opened the Mini Palais, a beautiful restaurant in Paris’s newly renovated Grand Palais exhibition hall, across from Les Invalides. In addition to his nascent restaurant empire, Gilles is also the father of Generation C, which stands for “Cuisines et Culture,” a group of chefs who teach cooking to the disadvantaged in Paris.
Gilles, whose father is a Jew from Algeria, experiments with the spices and flavors of North Africa to accent his French food. One of his signature desserts is this refreshing citrus- fruit soup. It makes the perfect ending to a North African meal, especially with cookies on the side.
4 blood or other oranges
1 cup orange juice
2 to 4 tablespoons sugar
6 dried dates or figs, roughly chopped
1 pint lemon or tangerine sorbet
6 tablespoons orange- blossom water
6 tablespoons extra- virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon ground cumin
6 mint leaves, cut in chiffonade
¼ cup shelled and peeled pistachio nuts, roughly chopped
¼ cup toasted almonds, roughly chopped
Cut off the tops and bottoms of the tangerines, grapefruit, and oranges with a sharp knife. Slice off the peel and the white pith, and cut in between the white membranes to extract individual segments. Put in a large bowl with the orange juice and enough sugar to make it slightly sweet. Add the dates or figs, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate. You can do this a day in advance. Just before serving, ladle some of the citrus juice into a glass dessert bowl or individual snifters. Add a small scoop of the sorbet, some of the citrus slices, and a few pieces of fig or date. Splash some orange- blossom water and olive oil on top. Then sprinkle with cumin and mint leaves, and scatter a few pistachios and almonds
From Quiches, Kugels and Couscous: My Search for Jewish Cooking in France by Joan Nathan (Knopf). Copyright Joan Nathan, 2010, available to purchase on Amazon.