A chilled melon soup
I planned to bake cornbread and fry okra for dinner Thursday night. Paired with sliced ripe tomatoes and freshly cooked pink-eyed peas, they make a classic Southern meal, something I make for myself once every summer. It's a seasonal, feel good meal, one I look forward to. Another day of scorching temperatures made me rethink my course of action.
A cantaloupe hid in the corner of my refrigerator — an overly ripe, slightly dented specimen from a CSA box of old. This not-so-attractive fruit, peeled, chopped and combined with a handful of almonds, turned into dinner with the help of my Waring blender and a few drops of citrus juice. I think of this as a super-simplified take on grape and almond gazapacho. A cucumber might be a nice addition to the melon-almond soup recipe below (I didn't have one), and the heat of a jalapeno pepper would be an interesting twist. My cantaloupe was very sweet, but add a bit of simple syrup or agave nectar if your soup needs a little sugar.
Simple syrup is made by combining equal parts water and sugar in a saucepan over low heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Adding granulated sugar to the soup would result in a grainy texture.
The following recipe would serve 3-4 as an appetizer; in typical single gal fashion, I consumed 2 helpings, slipped Season 5, Disc 1 of Six Feet Under into the DVD player, and supplemented my delicious starter with popcorn. Everything — entertainment included — was wonderful, but I'm a little depressed. There is no Season 6.
Chilled Melon and Almond Soup
1/2 cup blanched, slivered almonds
1 ripe cantaloupe, peeled and roughly chopped
3/4 cup cold water
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons lime juice
pinch of kosher salt
mint leaves, finely chopped
extra virgin olive oil
Put the almond slivers in a heat-resistant bowl. Cover with boiling water and let sit for at least 30 minutes, allowing them to soften.
Put 1/4 of the peeled and chopped cantaloupe into a blender with cold water — enough to get the blades going without trouble — and puree. With the blender running, add the rest of the melon, a few pieces at a time, and puree until smooth. Add lemon and lime juice, and a pinch of kosher salt. Taste, and add a few teaspoons of simple syrup or agave nectar if necessary. If the soup is too thick, thin it with more cold water.
Chill for at least 1 hour before serving. Garnish with freshly chopped mint leaves and a drizzle of olive oil.