My boyfriend's mother has the uncanny ability to choose flawless melons—perfectly ripe, luscious, and dripping with honey flavor. I, on the other hand, often end up with tasteless watermelons and mealy cantaloupes. My oh-so-professional method of selection? Tap lightly on the outside, pick one without any obvious bruises, and hope for the best.
In this week's featured Cook the Book title, The Splendid Table's How to Eat Supper, authors Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift reveal the secret to selecting a single, perfect honeydew from a mountainous market pile: it's all in the nose. Melons should smell sweet, like perfume. If a melon is odorless, it will likewise be tasteless. And here I spent all these years pressing them as you would an avocado.
Today's recipe is for Iced Cantaloupe Soup with Jalapeño and Basil. Paired with crusty bread and a green salad, it makes a perfect, light and easy meal after steamy commute home.
Win 'The Splendid Table's How to Eat Supper'
- One 2 1/2 pound intensely sweet-smelling ripe cantaloupe
- 2 cups ice cubes
- Generous pinch of 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 or 2 jalapeños, seeded and cut into fine dice
- 10 to 12 fresh basil leaves, coarse chopped
- 1/2 medium red onion, cut into 1/8-inch dice (optional)
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 lime juice, and puree. Stir in the grated zest.
Place the jalapeños, basil, and onion in separate small serving bowls. Pour the puree into individual soup bowls or into a pitcher for further chilling.
To serve, pour the soup into bowls and pass the condiments. The basil and jalapeño are the essential finishes for the soup, while the onion is an attractive option.