The Must-Have End-of-Summer Soup
A crazy, water-logged summer has taken its toll on farmers and produce. The sweet, juicy peaches of summers past have been tasteless over-sized balls of flavorless water, and tomatoes halted their season early. I have, however, had great luck with canteloupes—finding fragrant, sweet melons at farmers' markets and in local sections at the grocery store.
Hot Southern summers cry out for the cool, sweetness of melon. I also can't see or taste canteloupe without thinking of many afternoons I spent in France supping with friends on the smaller, sweeter varietals they serve there, often wrapped in Jambon de Bayonne and served with a cool, bubbly glass of Blanquette de Limoux.
Refrigerate the soup thoroughly for an hour or up to three hours (any longers and the bubbles will lose their luster) and serve in shallow bowls. Garnish the center of the plate with the basil and prosciutto and finish with a drizzle of black pepper. This presentation gives a pretty French touch while putting the perfect finish on this soup's fabulous flavor package.
Sparkling Canteloupe Soup with Prosciutto and Basil
(Makes 6 to 8 servings)
1/2 large, ripe canteloupe, halved, seeded and peeled cut into 1/4" cubes (about 4 cups)
2/3 cup brut Champagne (or substitute non-alcoholic sparkling cider)
1/2 cup whole cream (do not substitute with another reduced fat cream)
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Zest of 1 lime
8 slices prosciutto, trimmed and cut into thin strips
1 tablespoon fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
1 teaspon extra virgin olive oil
You'll need a food processor or blender—I find the latter yields a frothier, smoother soup. After that, it goes fast! Prep the canteloupe. To remove the outer rind, it's easiest to cut the melon into several slices (usually about 4 to 6). Then, using a sharp medium-sized chef's knife, slice along the bottom to remove the rind. Cut the melon into cubes. Place in the blender with the Champagne and cream. Pulse a few times and then blend until smooth and frothy.
Pour out into a medium-sized bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the lime zest. Cover with plastic wrap and chill thoroughly for one hour in the refrigerator. Meanwhile, prep the garnish and toss the prosciutto, basil and oil together in a small bowl.
To serve, ladle the soup into shallow bowls. Top with a dollop of the garnish set up in the middle of the bowl. Dust with a sprinkle of ground black pepper. (Note: Taste the soup after it has chilled. The colder temperature may "numb" your previous seasoning. Adjust salt and pepper as needed).