December 8, 2014
soupe de melon
My mother insisted on serving me cantaloupe even though I hated it. The more often she served it, the more I hated it. I guess she thought she could win me over. Today, if I’m served a dish with even a single piece of cantaloupe in it, I send it back to be remade. Its not enough to just remove the offensive substance. The smell of cantaloupe is so pervasive that everything on the plate is tinged by it.
I don’t like honeydew melons, Crenshaw melons, canary melons, muskmelons, or watermelon either. Although on one occasion in 1980, I could be seen squatting by the side of a road single‑handedly eating a whole watermelon. It happened in the rural countryside a short distance from Guangzhou in China. The weather was so hot and miserable that it could have been used to illustrate the word “sweltering” in the dictionary. I no longer remember why our tour bus stopped at the particular place it did, but a few minutes after we alighted, a farmer materialized along the side of the road pulling a two‑wheeled cart filled with soccer‑ball‑sized watermelons. The locals seemed to appear from nowhere to buy the melons. Caught in the moment and looking for temporary relief from dehydration, I and one other tour member each bought a melon. There the two of us were, squatting along the side of the road amongst the locals, who were also squatting, eating the watermelon without the aid of utensils and spitting the seeds into the adjacent field. On the few occasions where I’ve tasted watermelon since then, it has not been as satisfying.
Twice in the last few years I’ve found myself in possession of a large chunk of watermelon. On the first occasion, I juiced the chunk and turned the result into syrup for granité
. This time, I decided to use the rind for mariné zeste de pastèque
(pickled watermelon rind). Many years ago I had tasted this pickle, and when I found a suitable recipe last year, I set it aside in my “recipes to try” folder.
About the same time that the watermelon chunk took up residence in my refrigerator, a recipe for chilled melon soup from the Serious Eats website showed up in my RSS feed. Being curious about the coincidence, I looked at the recipe. I didn’t bother to save it since with eight ingredients and the limited number of melon possibilities considered by the recipe, I could tell it was not for me. I did, however, like the concept of mixing some yogurt with the melon puree. So that’s what I did here.
600 g (11⁄3 lb)
watermelon flesh in chunks
100 g ( 31⁄2 oz)
well‑drained, unflavored yogurt
1. Place everything in the jar of a high‑powered blender, and puree until very smooth.
2. Chill before serving.
Warning: The finished puree is visually reminiscent in color but not flavor of Pepto‑Bismol!
Note: Ignore the above quantities and just use melon and yogurt in a six‑to‑one ratio. Salt the finished liquid to your personal taste.
Yield: 700 ml (3 c).