At this time of year cantaloupe is just starting to come into season. They are tender and sweet and barely resemble the bland and watery winter versions. The local farmers market recently had some "Sugar Kiss" melons that I couldn't resist.
I tasted one of them, simply cut up and plain, and it was fantastic. I wanted to work them into my dinner plans as well so we could continue to enjoy them, but I didn't just want to serve them cubed. I opted to go with a chilled cantaloupe soup. It's easy to put together and really showcases the sweetness of the melons. It's an amazing start to a grilled meal.
I use baby pea shoots and basil leaves as the garnish but any type of shoots will work well. They are mainly there to add some crunch and herby flavor.
I provide some measurements in the recipe below, but you could taste the soup as you make it. The amount of lime juice you need to use is based on the sweetness of the cantaloupe, and that will depend on the type of cantaloupe you use, what time of year it is, and how ripe it is.
I also used some xanthan gum to hold the soup together and prevent separation of the liquid and solids but it is completely optional. If you use it, the amount needed will depend on how watery the melon is, so just blend in a small amount, like a quarter of a gram, and see how much it thickens it. Repeat until it's just starting to hold together, you want the xanthan gum to just start to thicken it but not really change the texture too much.
If you like this recipe you can get more than 80 other recipes from my book Modernist Cooking Made Easy: Getting Started. The book covers many of the popular modernist techniques such as gelling, spherification, and foams. It also explores modernist ingredients like agar, sodium alginate, tapioca maltodextrin, and xanthan gum. It is all presented in an easy to understand format and I think it's the best way to learn about modernist cooking.
Ingredients for Chilled Cantaloupe Soup with Pea Shoots
- 1/2 cantaloupe
- 1 tablespoon lime juice, or to taste
- 4 mint leaves, coarsely chopped
- 4 basil leaves, coarsely chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Xanthan gum (optional)
- Pea shoots
- Basil leaves, coarsely chopped
- Olive oil
Cooking Instructions for Chilled Cantaloupe Soup with Pea Shoots
At least 20 minutes before serving, or several hours if stored in refrigerator
Remove the skin from the cantaloupe and scoop out the seeds. Coarsely chop the cantaloupe then place in a food processor or a container for an immersion blender. Add the lime juice, mint and basil leaves, and salt. Blend or process until the soup is smooth. Taste and add more lime juice as needed, or honey if the melon is not sweet enough.
If using xanthan gum, add a small amount, about 0.25 grams, and blend in well. Repeat until it just begins to thicken slightly.
If not serving immediately, the soup can be stored in a sealed container for several hours. It may start to separate but a quick blend or whisk should bring it back together.
Because xanthan gum is a modernist ingredient, the amounts for this component are given in metric by weight. Learn more about how to measure modernist ingredients in this article.
Pour the soup into individual bowls. Top with the pea shoots and basil leaves. Drizzle with a small amount of olive oil then serve.