In the 1980’s I saw melon soup on dessert menus fairly frequently. I always thought it was a cheap shortcut by lazy chefs. But lately I have had a change of heart, and have come to appreciate melon soup for its refreshing quality. I’d rather see it as an appetizer or a palate-cleansing course than a dessert, but I no longer turn up my nose, wherever it appears. Here I have paired it with salty meats, but look to the Variations for some dessert ideas.
1 large yellow, orange, or green melon (try a Hami, Sharlyn, Crenshaw, or Honeydew)
½ cup honey
5-6 mint leaves
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
Grated zest of 1 orange
½ cup champagne or orange juice
1 teaspoon unrefined salt – try Persian Blue, Mayan, Manzanillo, or a salt infused with mint, ginger, curry, li hing mui, sweet spices, tea, or Szechuan pepper
¼ cup lime juice, or as needed
½ cup Greek yogurt or farmers cheese
8 slices thinly shaved prosciutto, ham, or other cured meats
- Peel and seed the melon, and combine it in a blender with honey, mint leaves, ginger, orange zest, and champagne. Puree until very smooth, then add ½ the salt and lime juice. Chill for at least 30 minutes.
- Before serving, taste again and adjust seasoning with more salt and lime juice as needed. As the melon soup chills, it will probably separate, but don’t be alarmed. Simple give it a stir just before serving in chilled bowls, garnished with yogurt, shaved prosciutto, and a few melon balls of contrasting color.
Spicy – Add freshly ground black or pink peppercorns, or even a dash of Sriracha, for a refreshingly zingy variation.
Thick and creamy – A heartier , more savory version of this soup can be made by omitting the honey and mint, and adding a brick of silken tofu, a chopped scallion, and a dash of soy sauce to the blender. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds and a pinch of Wakame or Dashi salt.
Desserty – Garnish this soup with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or fruity sorbet, and a delicate salted meringue cookie.