Chilled melon soups are everywhere now, although this recipe by California food writer Diane Rossen Worthington has been in my collection of favorites since 1988. It is a somewhat lighter version of one by John Downey. Downey’s Restaurant in Santa Barbara has been serving original dishes like this for years, and I think it is still one of the best restaurants in California.
Healthy, light, fresh and delicious food like this is one of the reasons I am so excited to be coming back to live in California. I can’t wait to see (and taste!) what the west coast food world has been up to in my absence.
We had chilled cantaloupe soup this weekend as a first course, followed by a green salad and some lemony, garlicky grilled shrimp, but it would go equally well with fish, pork or poultry. I think it would make a really nice lunch with a thai chicken salad and a glass of pinot gris. Whatever you decide to serve it with, to me, it is a perfect summer soup.
CHILLED CANTALOUPE SOUP
2 medium cantaloupes (about 4 pounds)
Grated zest of 1 orange
Juice of 1 orange
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon finely chopped basil
2 tablespoons sweet white vermouth
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup sour cream or creme fraiche
2 tablespoons sour cream
6 fresh basil leaves
Cut melons in half and remove seeds. Scoop out 6 tiny balls from half of one melon and reserve for garnish. Remove skin from melons and cut into small chunks. Combine cantaloupe, orange zest, orange juice, ginger, and basil with vermouth, salt and pepper in blender or food processor. Puree until fine. Add sour cream and blend. Strain soup and taste for seasoning. Refrigerate 4 hours before serving. Serve in chilled bowls and garnish with sour cream, cantaloupe balls and basil leaves. Serves 4 to 6.