This section is from the book "Mrs. Allen's Cook Book", by Mrs. Ida C. Bailey Allen. See also: The Conscious Cook: Delicious Meatless Recipes That Will Change the Way You Eat.
Fruit soups are made of sifted, stewed fruit, sweetened, thickened with corn starch, arrowroot or tapioca to the consistency of a cream soup, sweetened to taste while hot, and flavored with a dash of lemon juice, or a little spice. They are then chilled and served in tiny bowls, or bouillon cups, as appetizers, or in glasses as informal desserts or for the children's supper.
Currants, cherries, raspberries, blueberries and grapes, as well as rhubarb and strawberries, may be used. As much water again may be added over that generally used in the plain stewing of fruit. A tablespoonful of corn starch or arrowroot, dissolved in a little cold water, should be used to thicken each pint of liquid. Sugar and a few grains of salt may be added to taste. A tablespoonful of pearl tapioca, or a half tablespoonful of quick tapioca, should be used to each cupful and a half of "soup" if this thickening is chosen.
During the winter months, when fresh fruits are expensive and, in some cases, not to be obtained, the dried fruit fills the breach, offering in great variety the minerals and acids that are necessary to sustenance. It is not generally known that during the process of evaporation all fruits undergo a slight chemical change increasing the amount of sugar which they contain. The reason that dried fruit sauces frequently taste insipid is because this latent sugar is entirely ignored, the sauce being sweetened until the tart fruit flavor is entirely overcome. Prunes, for instance, contain a large percentage of sugar, almost identical with cane sugar, yet the majority of housewives add an excess amount ,of sweetening, and then say that "Their family will not eat prunes." Really good cooking consists in developing natural flavors, and well-cooked dried fruits are redolent with their own de-liciousness. Just as lemon juice is frequently added to brighten fresh pineapple, or orange juice to strawberries, the evaporated fruits are often made more sparkling by the addition of other flavors. Ground cinnamon or cloves may be occasionally used with prunes, ginger root or candied ginger with pears, while orange and lemon rind and juice, or a little tart jelly, are additions to all varieties.
The dried fruits in common winter use are pears, peaches, apricots, prunes, loganberries, strawberries and figs, while dates have a definite place in combination with other materials. Only the sun- or home-dried varieties should be used. Because of the tough skin, it is usually necessary to soften and cook them before they appear in any way. First of all, they must be washed thoroughly, then submerged in warm water for twelve hours in a covered utensil. At the end of this time they will have swollen to their original shape, and, although uncooked, are already tender. The cooking may be done in three ways - in the double boiler, in a crock in the oven, or in the fireless cooker. In any case the water in which they are soaked serves as the liquid, the seasoning, as orange rind or spice, is put in at the beginning of the process; the liquid must not boil, and the sugar is not added until the last half hour. As a general rule, not less than two hours should be allowed for cooking prunes, apricots and peaches, while pears and figs are improved by three or four hours' time. Loganberries may be cooked in an hour. Like most of the dried fruits, prunes and figs are laxative, partly because of their coarse skin, and partly because of marked purgative properties.