Strawberry-rhubarb is one of the great pie combinations; I believe it even rivals mom’s apple pie as favorite pie choice. These two elements also combine to make a terrific soup. Their flavors are even more apparent without the medium of pie crust, and the chill factor heightens the gustatory appeal. It’s perfect on a hot day. Make it less sweet and eat it as a first course or as part of a simple meal, make it  sweeter, don’t add the pepper, and it becomes a dessert course.

4 c chopped rhubarb
3 c water
2 c sliced strawberries
1/4 – 1/2 c sugar or other sweetener
dash salt
fresh chopped basil or mint
black pepper, to taste
sour cream, yogurt, or crème fraîche, for serving

1. Combine rhubarb and water in a saucepan. Bring to the boil and cook until rhubarb is broken down. Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl. Allow to cool for a bit then put in fridge until it is cool, at least half an hour. To help speed the chilling, you can put the bowl in a larger bowl in which you have placed iced cubes and some water, just enough to go up the sides some.

2. When the rhubarb is cool, transfer to a blender or food processor. Buzz for a few seconds, then add the strawberries, some sugar, and the dash of salt. Buzz until smooth.

3. Either return the purée to the rhubarb bowl or put into a serving bowl. Top with basil, and pepper, if using. Serve, with a dollop of sour cream or other topping.

4. If making ahead, refrigerate soup, but don’t add herbs and pepper until just before serving.