Soup for a hot day

3rd August, 2009 - Posted by admin - Comments Off

Cold melon and mint soup.

In honor of Eat Local Month, this week’s column will focus on a dish made with local fruit and honey.

Gazpacho, vichyssoise and borscht are all classic cold soups. There is another category of cold soup that’s starting to make in-roads in this country: fruit soups.

Cold fruit soups are well-known and popular in Europe, but less so here. They are often served as part of the salad course or on their own as a light snack. Pretty much any fruit or fruit combination can be blended into a soup and they are ideal for using fruit that’s ripe, but bruised or otherwise less than ideal for displaying.

If you’re used to having your fruit whipped with protein powder, then be prepared for something a little different. Fruit soups can be as simple or exotic as the chef likes and this is a great place to experiment with different flavors. While researching this column, I found a recipe for a peach-ginger soup that will be attempted following the next farmer’s market.

Fruit soups are not heated, making them perfect for summer meals and also very healthy. The lack of heat means that all the nutrients arrive intact. Leave out the yogurt in this recipe and it’s a good introduction to raw food. While I do have some issues with the raw food philosophy as a whole (nothing heated over 115 degrees fahrenheit), I am on board with consuming more fresh fruits and vegetables in season whenever possible.

Don’t be put off by the sugar in the recipe below. Sugar is the sweet equivalent of salt: it enhances what’s there while not adding any new flavors. Add the honey, taste, then add the sugar. You might find you don’t need it.

The honey is an addition I made to the original recipe. First, because it tastes good and secondly, because eating local products actually helps boost the immune system to fight off local allergens. As someone with a pollen allergy, consuming local honey whenever possible keeps me human and drug-free.

Other than that, the only advice I would give before embarking on this soup is to not skimp on the mint and don’t substitute lemon for the lime juice. Lemon is too tart for this recipe and will overpower the more subtle melon flavors. Serving in the cantaloupe halves is a nice touch, but bowls will work equally well.

Enjoy with a chilled Gewurztraminer or a sparkling wine.

Cold Melon and Mint Soup in Cantaloupe
Serves 4

1 cantaloupe melon, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves, rinsed and spun dry, plus, if desired, 6 mint sprigs for garnish
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons plain yogurt
1 tablespoon honey
1 to 2 tablespoons sugar

In a blender in batches or in a food processor purée the melon, mint leaves, lime juice, honey and sugar to taste, and a pinch of salt until the mixture is smooth, transfer the soup to a bowl, and chill it, covered, for a least 1 hour or overnight.

The soup may be made 2 days in advance and kept covered and chilled. Arrange the cantaloupe halves on 6 small plates, ladle the soup into them, and garnish each serving with a mint sprig and a dollop of yogurt.

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Posted on: August 3, 2009

Filed under: Dessert, Dinner, Soup, Vegetarian

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