In case you missed them last week, the Patriots are back on Sunday night, hosting the Eagles at what promises to be a chilly Gillette Stadium. Befitting his North Atlantic origins, the Gurgling Cod has been a Patriots fan since he was a fingerling, but he understands that not everyone shares his joy at their success. In the wake of Spygate, the Pats' quest for a perfect season has taken on a somewhat grim and inexorable quality. It is professional football, and charges that the Pats have been running up the score only lead to tedious and predictable arguments, but Patriots head coach Bill Belichick does appear to be doing a season-long audition for the role of Ahab. Making matters, worse, a forecast gametime temperature of around 30°F means that Belichick will be accessorizing his trademark hoodie with the inexplicable cold weather headband. In tandem with the requisite coach headphone-microphone set, he looks like a soccer mom-cum-Panzer commander. Come to think of it, that's not a bad description of the SUV-driving Hingham hausfraus you might encounter on 128 on the way to the game, but I digress.
This Sunday Night Soup will be the last of eating and football after a long weekend of both. Rather than concoct some sort of chessesteak chowder, allow me to suggest something, light, nay, vegan? (Exactly the kind of brilliant misdirection Ahab excels in, come to think of it.) This soup is one of my favorites, especially when there are
fussy eaters vegetarians in the mix. The color of the finished soup is close to the shade of orange in the Dolphins' uniforms, but at 0-10, it seems unlikely that they will be muscling their way onto the primetime schedule, so we will sneak it in here. This soup is pie-easy, refrigerates well, and offers a change of pace from the food the color of men's slacks you've been eating all weekend. This soup's antecedent is a tomato-melon soup in Mark Bittman's The Minimalist Cooks at Home, but I'd argue that the refinement of roasting the cantaloupe makes for a fundamentally different soup, especially with the possibly suboptimal melon you may find at this time of year.
- 4 good size tomatoes (or around 2 pounds)
- 1 cantaloupe
- Pretty good olive oil
- 1 ludicrously expensive package of basil (the kind sold in the small plastic clamshells) or equivalent
- 1 lemon
Preheat oven to 400°F. Boil a pot of water.
Cut the melon in half, scoop out the seeds, cut melon into slices and remove rind from melon. Put a generous slug or two of olive oil in a cast iron skillet, and swirl melon pieces around in the oil. Give another swirl in 10 minutes or so.
While the melon roasts, prep tomatoes: use a paring knife to remove the core of the tomato (you will remove a cone shaped section, oriented around the north pole of the tomato), cut a shallow X in the bottom, and drop into boiling water for 30 seconds, then dunk in ice water. Cut tomatoes in half, and work skins off under running cold water, and use the water to rinse out all the seedsyou will have to pull the tomato apart a bit as you do this.
When the cantaloupe pieces are starting to lose structural integrity, and you have a nice slurry of olive oil and cantaloupe essence in the skillet, but before anything chars, turn the cantaloupe out into a bowl, leaving at least some of the slurry in the pan, and add the tomatoes, adding more oil if they threaten to stick. Cook tomatoes just enough so that they do not taste raw.
When melon and tomato are cool enough to work with, combine with basil and some ice in a blender. Make sure you get all the slurry in there. You remembered to rinse the basil. Add some lemon, reblend, and check seasoning. Allow soup to chill, 45 minutes.