Sunday, August 30, 2009

When it's hot

I returned Saturday afternoon with Sophie from a quick trip behind the Orange Curtain (Newport Beach, where I grew up and my parents still live) thinking I was fleeing a heat wave for the generally cool climate of northern California. Wrong. It was blistering when I left and blistering when I landed. I consoled myself by planning a menu for Sunday dinner that involved a minimum of cooking. Saturday night the fog rolled in and coated us in a cool drippy mist, and Sunday evolved into a sunny but cool day, just the way I like it. Too late. This recipe for chilled melon soup was already lodged in my brain.

You're supposed to simmer half a cup of fresh mint along with lime zest in sugar and water. I didn't have quite that much mint in my garden, but the recipe was fine with less.

My melon was particularly sweet, so I decreased the amount of sugar a little.

And since I had used all the mint in the soup, I had to make due with a nasturtium garnish.


1 lime
1 cup water
1/2 cup packed mint leaves
1/4 cup sugar
1 cantaloupe, about 2 1/2 pounds
3/4 cup Gewurztraminer or Riesling

With a vegetable peeler, remove zest from lime. In a small saucepan, simmer water, lime zest, mint, and sugar, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat and let mixture steep for another 15 minutes. Pour mixture through a sieve into a medium bowl. Discard solids. Cool syrup to room temperature.

Halve and seed cantaloupe. Working in two batches, scoop flesh into food processor and puree until smooth. Add to bowl containing syrup. Stir in wine. Chill, covered, until cold—at least 2 hours and up to 1 day. Skim any foam from top and serve, garnished with mint.
I served this before chicken breasts wrapped in prosciutto, green beans in a sherry vinaigrette, and rice pilaf with fresh basil.

Our weather is still unseasonably cool (no complaints here), but it's probably warm at your house. This is a great use for those super-sweet end-of-summer melons.

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