As we head into “la rentrée,” that season of the year in France that strikes dread into the heart of so many (because it means first day of school/work/back to reality), we’ve still got a few hints of summer left. There are s the warm days and relatively long evenings, the green leaves on the trees, and the gorgeous produce at the market which is, to my mind, better at this time of year than any other.
Best Season of All
Just think – everything now is filled with the sun of summers’ end, it can ripen slowly, rest in the cool of the night then gently absorb daytime’s warmth. The melon is a perfect example. Its heyday may be nearly over but those that are coming from garden and field now are richer in flavor than ever.
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So, what to do with these beautiful orbs? Why, make soup of course!
Any Melon You Have
Here I make it with the Charentais, a cantaloupe-like melon that is a jewel in the French fruit crown, but I suggest you use the melon at hand whether it be honeydew, Crenshaw, or one of the more than thirty other varieties that exist. The main thing to consider is its ripeness, which you can get a hint of simply through its smell.
Of course there are many other ways to see if a melon is ripe, and at the market I watch as people weigh them, throwing them back and forth in their hands as though they were tennis balls; check the stem end to see if it is cracked; look at the webbing to see if it is grey/white/dry/wet; press on it to get a sense of its texture. Everyone has their own trick, their own secret to choosing the best melon, and I’ve got mine too. Go ahead and hold a melon to your nose – if you get a nose-full of its heady aroma then you’ve got a great melon on your hands.
Serve it in a Glass?
With your wonderful melon please do make this beautiful soup. It’s simple, and it’s a perfect way to make summer last. I either serve it as an appetizer – in a small, pretty glass – or as a full first course. You’ll make your family and friends very happy with this soup, no matter how you serve it. Just remember that it needs time to chill so that you can serve it cool, at its best.
- 1 large or 2 small canteloupe type melon peeled and seeded, chopped
- 1 medium cucumber peeled, seeded and chopped
- 1 cup;250ml plain yogurt
- 3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
- 1 small shallot minced
- Fine sea salt
- Extra virgin olive oil – if desired
- Aleppo or Smoked Paprika – if desired
- Puree the melon and the cucumber in a food processor or blender. Pour half the mixture into a large bowl and reserve.
- Add the yogurt to the melon mixture in the blender, along with the vinegar and the shallot and puree. Season to taste with salt, then chill for 2 to 3 hours.
- Adjust the seasoning of the soup and divide it into 6 shallow soup bowls. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil, then sprinkle with Aleppo pepper and serve.