Recipes :

Strawberry soup with mint and balsamic (And a story about a red tulip and a young man who wouldn’t give up.)

I am not sure which is sweeter–the scrumptious soup, gorgeous recipe card or the accompanying story. This post could tempt even the most picky palate and soften the most cynical heart. Ronelle is one very lucky woman. (And her husband is one extremely fortunate man!)

Strawberries are slowly making their appearance on the market and I can’t keep myself in. I have to have some early strawberries, even though they come from Spain!


  • Add red berries like raspberries, blackberries,  blueberries…
  • Serve with a sprinkling of freshly milled black pepper.
  • Use a hand mixer instead of fork to break up the strawberries.
  • Use Maroccan mint if you can find, which have a stronger flavour than ordinary garden mint.
  • Or use some lemon verbena instead in high summer.
  • Serve chilled on hot summer days, but at room temperature early in the season.
  • Serve along with a slice of lemon poppy seed cake as accompaniment, or a herbed shortbread.
  • Don’t be afraid to use a lot of mint!

…the red tulip.

Along with strawberries, come the tulips. Especially one stubborn red tulip who refuses to bend the knee before me. Like last year and every year before, this single red tulip makes its appearance in my all white and blue  garden every April. I have now decided to  accept it and welcome it. It has become quite a game and I’m amused by the tulip’s proudness and dedication to defeat me. It actually reminds me of a guy I once knew at university who wouldn’t give up either.

He was madly in love with me, completely, head over heels…and yes, he was sort of cute too, I thought. I was staying in a hostel for girls on campus, fourth floor out of six, overlooking beautifully tended campus gardens. And he was staying in a hostel for boys, way off, on the other side of the campus. That’s how it was in those days. No men allowed in the girls’ hostels and vice versa. (which made for very exciting experiences!) Except of course, for visiting hours in the lounge downstairs.

Very regularly, he showed up at my hostel, long after visiting hours, on nights when the moon was showing off in the sky and the stars were sparkling impatiently with anticipation. With his guitar and a red rose and his best friend, I was charmed with unashamedly beautiful love songs from the garden under my window. Their strong, deep melodious voices, trained from years of singing, had every girl hanging out their windows along with me, losing ourselves in the charm and romance of “old world courting” from down below.  Beautiful beautiful brown eyes, was always on the list of songs and their voices faded away in the distance with Goodnight ladies. My red rose, always stolen from an overflowing garden somewhere, was left on the windowsill downstairs at the front door, for the hostel had already firmly been locked up for the night.

And so it happened that he got caught one night while stealing my red rose. He unfortunately chose the garden of the Professor of engineering, with whom he was “very well acquainted”. He was a student in engineering, you see… So, he was allowed the rose, but had to work the Professor’s compost heap for two weekends. For a while, it was slow on the rose-serenading-scene and we all missed it. Then, one night, there he was again, with a stolen red rose and guitar and his best friend. The cute guy I once knew. And who I still know. He is my husband.

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The Rusted Chain Quel Object