What's not to love when with an effortless twist a dish becomes something brand-new? Puree the Cantaloupe Thai Chile Basil Salad with an adjustment or two, and you will have a soup that is heaven in a bowl at the end of a steamy summer commute home. Track down a truly sweet cantaloupe for the soup. The commitment will pay back tenfold. A melon's fragrance tells you everything you need to know. If it smells sweet, almost perfumed, you have a good one. If a melon has no scent, it will have no flavor.
Make this a day ahead and keep it chilled.
1 2-1/2 pound intensely sweet-smelling ripe cantaloupe
2 cups ice cubes
Generous pinch salt
4 or 5 grinds of black pepper
2 tablespoons sugar
Juice of 2 large limes (about 1/2 cup)
Grated zest of 1/2 large lime
1 to 2 jalapeño chiles, seeded and cut into fine dice
10 or 12 fresh basil leaves, coarse chopped
1/2 medium red onion, cut into 1/8-inch dice
1. Cut the melon into quarters. Scoop out its seeds and trim away the rind. Slice it into chunks and put them into a food processor. Add the ice, salt, pepper, sugar, and the lime juice, and puree. Stir in the grated zest.
2. Place the chiles, basil, and onion in small serving bowls. Transfer the puree into individual soup bowls or into a pitcher for chilling. To serve, pour the soup into bowls and pass the condiments. The basil and chile are the essential finishes for the soup while the onion is an attractive option.
Variation: Cantaloupe-Jalapeño Cooler
When colleague Judy Graham gave this recipe a run-through, she went into overdrive and came up with this for brunch.
Prepare the recipe as described above up to the point where it has been pureed. Before adding the lime zest, strain the soup. Then blend in the lime zest and 1 seeded and minced jalapeño.
Divide the blend between 4 to 6 tall glasses filled with ice. Add a splash of vodka to each one and stir. Serve garnished with wedges of lime or a sprig of basil.
From The Splendid Table's How to Eat Supper by Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift, Clarkson Potter, 2008.
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