Oops! I may have sent this one twice! Sorry!
Cantaloupe-Yogurt Soup with Ginger, Lime, and Mint
by Victoria Challancin
The weather is hot. The rains have not yet really started. Life is languid. All of these factors come together to scream, "Give me cool, refreshing, light food! Now!" And so I did, yesterday in class.
On Wednesday, I started a new eight-week cooking course designed for Mexican cooks who mainly work for foreigners and who want to learn international cooking. Aside from gazpacho, cold soups don't really figure into the cooking repertoire of most of my students, which is why it is such fun to introduce them to something new. And easy.
This soup, which some could argue would easily work as a morning smoothie, comes together in a snap. Toss the ingredients into the blender, whir it around, check and adjust flavors, and there you have it: a perfect entry into a warm-weather meal. Or savor it as a perfect breakfast smoothie--that works equally well.
While scrolling around looking for the perfect chilled soup, I thought to check the Soup Chick's blog, where I often find inspiration. This melon soup was perfect. Now that the summery fruits are starting to come into the markets, I knew I could find good melons, and the rest I already had in my pantry or my garden.
Cook's Notes: When my students asked if they could use other ingredients, I told them that honeydew or other orange or green melons would work well, as would mango or pineapple, or any combination. I did grate fresh ginger into the soup instead of using dried, simply because I love the flavor. This soup was a definite hit! I have written the soup as the Soup Chick gave it, with ingredients to serve two. We used 2 melons and were thus able to triple the recipe.
Recipe: Cantaloupe-Yogurt Soup with Ginger, Lime, and Mint
(Recipe from soupchick.com)
3 cups cubed melon
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt or regular plain yogurt
1/8 teaspoon ground powdered ginger (I used 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger for 2 servings)
Zest of one lime
Juice of 1/2 lime (I added more)
1 teaspoon agave nectar or honey
2 to 3 mint leaves (I used 9 for the tripled recipe)
2 to 3 basil leaves (I used 9 for the tripled recipe)
A pinch of kosher salt
2 to 3 tablespoons water if needed to thin the soup to desired consistency
Combine all ingredients except water in a blender, and puree until smooth. Adjust consistency with water if needed. Check and adjust seasoning to taste, adding more ginger, herbs, lime juice, and/or honey to suit your taste. Serve chilled.
Melon History and Trivia
What's not to love about melons? They are cooling, refreshing, juicy, and delicious--and available all year long, though they are clearly at their peak in summer. As a child I thrilled to pick watermelons straight from my Grandpa's melon patch in Georgia. And later in Florida, even as a teenager, I delighted to use them as a float as we cooled them in the lake where I grew up before sitting on the dock to eat them with the juices running down our arms. But then, as a young adult, I stumbled onto an expanded world of melons far beyond the three types I grew up with (watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew) when I traveled through specifically Iran and Afghanistan, where the varieties dazzled. Or perhaps it was just the cooling welcomeness in searing heat. Whatever, I still have an image fixed forever etched in my brain of a young donkey running in circles in a melon patch in southern Iran--as if he knew the delight of the fruit himself, as if he didn't know he would grow up to be a beast of burden.
A Few Melon Facts:
- Melons belong to the Cucurbitaceae family, which includes gourds, cucumbers, and squashes
- Botanically speaking, a melon is technically a berry
- The word "melon" derives from the Latin melopepo, which comes from the Greek for "melon"
- Originally melons came from Africa and southwest Asia, but by the end of the Roman Empire, they had appeared in Europe
- In ancient China, archaeological data suggest that melons have been cultivated for over 5000 years
- Spain introduced cucumbers, watermelons, and melons to the New World, though other cucurbits existed there already
- The ancient Egyptians and Greeks also grew melons
- The papaya, native to the Americas, is a type of melon
- The cantaloupe has its origins in Persia and the neighboring Caucasian region
- The cantaloupe, which was popular in ancient Rome, was first brought to Rome from Armenia in the 16th century (other melons existed there earlier than this)
- The netted species of cantaloupe probably originated in Persia
- Melons are rich in water, sugars, and fiber
- Melons have a slightly laxative effect because of the fibers they contain
- Melons are an excellent tonic for circulation and useful in the control of blood pressure
- Melons are rich in vitamins A and C
- Because of their high sugar content, melons aren't suitable for diabetics
- Melons are very hydrating and quench thirst
- A mask of melon flesh can be used for sunburn as the flesh will absorb heat from the skin
- It is best not to store melons in the refrigerator, but rather keep it in a cool, dry place
- In the past melons were eaten as a vegetable with salt and pepper (and I still love them this way!)
- Early explorers used watermelons as canteens
- Every part of a watermelon is edible, even the seeds and rinds
- Some clame that the cantaloupe is named after a village in southern France, others say it comes from Cantalupo, Italy
- Egyptian hieroglyphics feature melons as early as 2400 B.C.
- During the Civil War, Confederate soldiers boiled down watermelons to produce sugar and molasses
- Watermelon seeds can be roasted and eaten as a snack
- Ancient Egyptians so revered watermelons that they were often placed in the tombs of kings
- In Japan they have square watermelons
- It takes about 10 to 15 visits by bees to pollinate melons
- Cantaloupes do not ripen after being picked
- Cantaloupes are called "rockmelons" in Australia and often called "musk melons" in the U.S.
- I posted here a recipe for making an agua fresca, or fresh fruit drink, using only the seeds of cantaloupes
This Cantaloupe-Yogurt Soup is my entry for the inspiring and fabulous Nancy Lopez's YBR event for the month of June.
Parting Shot: A Moroccan Door
©Victoria Challancin. All Rights Reserved.
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