Even after wondering whether I might have picked up some colour on my nose from the glorious sunshine we’re getting here, the nights and mornings tell me that winter’s well on the way.  So somehow it seems perfectly sensible to return to an old favourite from the northern hemisphere – rote grütze – a cherry and berry wonder from Germany.

Literally translating as ‘red groats’, it seems that traditionally this recipe was made with a combination of red fruit juices and grains.  The modern version I’m tapping into here is still based on red fruit juice (here I’ve used grape juice), but also uses whole red fruits.  It’s not super sweet, and enriched with a dash of red wine,  it’s a dessert that recalls the best of a steaming mug of glühwein, hearty and cosy-making from the insides.  It’s a fantastic served warm with vanilla custard.  It also keeps well in the fridge and Germans have been known to have it cold on their cereal of a morning.  Give it a go – but let me warn you that the grütze of course loses its soupy-stewy consistency to become more jelly-like in the cold, so don’t be disturbed at the transformation!

And while it does not sit perfectly within a particular genre, having some characteristics of a compote, a stew (like stewed apple or rhubarb), a jelly, a pudding – I’m crossing my fingers that this rote grütze is soup-like enough to qualify for this month’s No Croutons Required event, in which Lisa is calling for soups or salads with berries.

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Rote grütze (red groats)

415g tin cherries, drained and juice reserved
about 450ml dark red grape juice (unsweetened)
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/3 cup cornflour
1/2 red wine
2-3 cups mixed red berries (frozen is fine)

Put the reserved cherry juice in a measuring jug and make up to 600ml with the red grape juice.  Tip into a medium saucepan, and then add 1 more cup grape juice.  Add in the sugar, lemon zest and juice.  Bring to the boil.

In a separate glass, stir together the cornflour and the red wine.  When the juice mixture is just boiling, pour the cornflour mixture into the saucepan.  Return to the boil, stirring continuously as the sauce thickens, and simmer for 3 minutes.

Stir in the drained cherries and the berries and gently return to the boil.  Take off the heat and allow to cool slightly before serving.

Yield: about 1.5L, which would be a good 6-8 servings.  Keep in the fridge and microwave or heat gently on the stove to serve.

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