Cold Melon-berry Soup {FFwD}

Let’s put this right out front: I was the only one in the house looking forward to this week’s French Fridays with Dorie offering. As many recipes as I’ve tried, we’re just not cold soup people around here. Even though I’m usually with the rest of the family on this one, I actually thought this cold soup looked good. Maybe because it’s not so much a soup as fruit in pureéd fruit. It sounded light and refreshing — perfect for this time of year.

The star of this recipe is cantaloupe, and Dorie advises the chef to use a “dead-ripe” melon. This is a great time of year for melons, so I went to the store to get one. As someone who grew up in the Midwest and Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, I know how to pick a melon. I looked for one without a lot of green beneath the webbing that was heavy for its size with a little give on the flesh and the stem end and that smelled deeply of fresh, ripe cantaloupe. I chose a melon that had all these qualities and was confident it would be ripe, juicy, and flavorful.

So imagine my surprise when I got home and cut into my cantaloupe only to see this:

No, that’s not a trick of light. The flesh of that melon is so pale it’s almost white. I tried a bite of it, and it had almost no flavor whatsoever. So, back to the store I went, anemic melon in hand. The lady at the service counter was very polite and apologetic, and we headed over to the produce department to see if we could get some help.

The young man stocking sweet corn looked like he couldn’t have been working there (or anywhere) for more than a few weeks, but he listened to my plight, walked over to the melon bin, looked at the melons for a moment, then picked one up, hefted it in his hand, and said, “I’ll be right back.” He disappeared into the backroom for a minute or two, then emerged with the cantaloupe he had chosen, cut in half and wrapped. I took it from him and looked at the flesh. He had chosen a beautiful melon.  So much for my years of experience. I had been shown up by a tattooed teenager, but I didn’t care. I now had the perfect cantaloupe in my possession.

Back in the kitchen, I unwrapped the melon halves, dug out the seeds, then cut one half into melon balls, which I put in a covered container and stuck in the fridge. I sliced the other half of  the melon, cut the flesh off the rind, and chopped it into large chunks. I put the melon pieces in the food processor and whirred it into a juicy orange pureé. I scraped the pureéd melon into a quart container and seasoned it with fresh lemon juice, sea salt, and freshly grated ginger. Then I tucked the pureé in the fridge with the melon balls.

A few hours later, when I was ready to serve the soup, I divided the melon pureé among four rocks glasses. Then I added melon balls to the glasses and topped the soup with sliced strawberries. Even without the mint garnish, which I forgot, the soup looked great.

I found the soup very refreshing. The natural sweetness of the melon balls and sliced strawberries was both tempered and heightened by the slightly savory pureé. The salt brought out the melon flavor, and the acid from the lime juice cut the sweetness just enough to make the soup seem like an appetizer rather than a dessert.

The girls weren’t so enthusiastic. J and M liked the fruit but thought the salt in the pureé detracted from the natural sweetness of the melon and berries. A didn’t like it at all. She brought her glass out to the kitchen, saw the container of leftover melon balls and asked if she could have them instead.

So, while I enjoyed this dish and would certainly eat it as a light, cool appetizer, I doubt if I’ll make it again just for myself. And other than this recipe, I’m still not entirely sold on cold soup.

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35 Comments

  1. Kayte said,

    July 18, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    Yeah, sure, Pennsylvania and all that, but nothing beats those Indiana melons from the southern part of the state that are as large as a pig’s head and have those deep groves in sections…Athena ones come close but still lack a bit. Oh yeah, those are the ones to get…those Indiana ones! Have to say that soup looks great in that glass, very pretty and elegant and definitely something I would love to have set in front of me on a hot summer’s day. Lovely.

    • gaaarp said,

      July 18, 2011 at 8:27 pm

      Thanks. I had to make do with an Ohio melon, but it was OK.

  2. Teresa said,

    July 17, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    My partner let me know he wasn’t interested in trying this, so I went over to my parents’ place and they loved it. I’m glad they’re willing to be French Fridays taste-testers occasionally! I’m glad that you took the melon back and exchanged it for a better one, because your final soup looks wonderful.

    • gaaarp said,

      July 17, 2011 at 11:27 pm

      Thanks. It’s nice to have taste-testers, isn’t it? My family is usually game to try anything, even if they aren’t sure they will like it.

  3. mary hirsch said,

    July 16, 2011 at 9:09 am

    Question of the Day: Have you EVER met a kid that likes cold soup?

    Answer: That would be “No”.

    • gaaarp said,

      July 16, 2011 at 9:16 am

      LOL. And so true, at least around here.

  4. July 15, 2011 at 8:22 pm

    My brother, who used to be the pickiest eater ever, would always order the chilled fruit soup appetizers when we would take cruises with the family. I really liked it – although I made a smaller batch just for me. It was just what I needed after a hot day.

    • gaaarp said,

      July 15, 2011 at 8:36 pm

      Your brother had very refined tastes at a young age. I should have made a single serving batch, too. The kids didn’t like it and were lamenting the fact that I used all the cantaloupe.

  5. Christina said,

    July 15, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    I love that you went back and got a better melon – that first one looks awful! Your soup looks lovely!

    • gaaarp said,

      July 15, 2011 at 4:17 pm

      Thanks! It was definitely worth a trip back to the store.

  6. luciacara said,

    July 15, 2011 at 11:09 am

    I’m so happy for you that got to see the second melon before buying! The color of your soup is so vibrant! We liked the soup, but I used too much ginger for us to love it.

    • gaaarp said,

      July 15, 2011 at 4:17 pm

      I was afraid that I had used too much ginger, but in the end I thought it could’ve used more.

  7. sanyaliving said,

    July 15, 2011 at 8:02 am

    You family sounds so much like mine! With 5 of us, there’s always mixed reviews! I have to admit I prefer the fruit balls to the soup as well. Your photos look great!

    • gaaarp said,

      July 15, 2011 at 4:16 pm

      I might have been able to sell it ot my family if I had served the melon and berries with just a drizzle of the puree, or maybe the puree on the side.

  8. Anne Marie said,

    July 15, 2011 at 7:47 am

    The only cold soup that they will eat is gazpacho. Looks pretty though

    • gaaarp said,

      July 15, 2011 at 7:48 am

      Mine don’t even like gazpacho.

  9. Nancy said,

    July 15, 2011 at 6:54 am

    Even though I liked this recipe, I had to get past calling it soup.

    • gaaarp said,

      July 15, 2011 at 7:29 am

      Isn’t it funny how many of us seem to have a mental block when it comes to cold soup?

  10. July 15, 2011 at 5:05 am

    I too had difficulty figuring this soup out and which course it belongs in. Though I have to say that in the end I thought it could be sold as a dessert. Maybe I just didn’t add enough salt, but mine tasted more sweet than savory.

    • gaaarp said,

      July 15, 2011 at 4:15 pm

      Funny, I think I may have added too much salt to mine. That was the main complaint from my family. I grew up eating salt on melon (I don’t eat it that way anymore), but it didn’t strike me as an odd flavor like it did everyone else.

  11. Heather said,

    July 14, 2011 at 10:03 pm

    I love that you’re always willing to try the recipes that aren’t met with much enthusiasm from your family (or even yourself!). Talk about dedication to trying new things. I need to be more like you! I tend to shy away from things that don’t ‘wow’ me at first glance.

    • gaaarp said,

      July 15, 2011 at 4:13 pm

      Thanks. I often surprise myself by liking something I wasn’t so sure about. But of course, there are plenty of times I don’t end up liking something I wasn’t so sure about to begin with.

  12. Karen said,

    July 14, 2011 at 9:01 pm

    Your soup looks very pretty (even without the mint)! I served this for breakfast and we really liked it! I think part of the problem is selling it as “soup”…

    • gaaarp said,

      July 14, 2011 at 9:12 pm

      I agree. If I had told them it was just a berry-melon puree, they might have liked it.

  13. Cher said,

    July 14, 2011 at 7:59 pm

    Great story about the melon – it’s nice that the store was willing to help you out.
    I think three out of four liked this in our house.

    • gaaarp said,

      July 14, 2011 at 8:15 pm

      Well, you have better results than I did. In fact, it from reading others posts and comments, I’d say 3 out of 4 is pretty good!

  14. Abby said,

    July 14, 2011 at 7:46 pm

    So glad you were able to get a replacement for the melon…Can’t say I’m a cold soup person myself, but maybe if you billed it as a refreshing fruit puree drink…?

    • gaaarp said,

      July 14, 2011 at 8:14 pm

      I tried that, but the fact that it’s savory as well as sweet kind of ruins that.

  15. teaandscones said,

    July 14, 2011 at 7:34 pm

    It was interesting wasn’t it. I also am not a cold soup person. Made one serving. Different.

    Horrible looking melon. Glad you took it back and got a better one. YUCH!!

    • gaaarp said,

      July 14, 2011 at 8:13 pm

      Don’t worry, next week’s recipe is great (even if you make it with chicken).

  16. nana said,

    July 14, 2011 at 7:30 pm

    That is the strangest melon ever. I’m glad you returned it and
    found a ripe one. I let mine ripen all week and it was perfect for making melon balls. Unfortunately, Hubby and I did not like the recipe
    and I’m anxious to see Tricia’s results.

    • gaaarp said,

      July 14, 2011 at 8:11 pm

      Seems like this one isn’t a universal hit like most of the recipes in AMFT. I guess they can’t all be winners.

  17. Kathy said,

    July 14, 2011 at 7:02 pm

    Your post is funny…I guess you can’t judge a book by its cover. Your melon soup looks so delicious! Mine is in the fridge chilling. Will post in the AM. Love the touch of strawberries…very nice!

    • gaaarp said,

      July 14, 2011 at 8:08 pm

      Thanks. I can’t wait to hear what you think of it.


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