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No-Fuss Refreshment: Cantaloupe Soup

Cool, sweet, creamy, refreshing, weird…it’s cantaloupe soup.
Or rather, cantaloupe gazpacho.
Although, I prefer to not call it “gazpacho”, because I’m really not a fan of that traditional cold vegetable soup.
I’m sure there are some very nice versions out there (and please, feel free to share).
But I was scared off of the stuff after a summer spent waitressing at a New York City restaurant during my college years.
Gazpacho was a very popular summer appetizer at this no-longer exisiting bistro, but I knew something the customers did not…
The chunky potage was concocted by a very angry chef, who would throw all manner of leftover vegetable scraps and herbs into a blender, whir it around, and then dump it into these giant Tupperware vats kept in the fridge. You’d stir it up, then serve it up. Yuck.
But this version, is much, much, much better…and not so angry.

The recipe comes from one of my favorite cookbooks—Olives & Oranges by Sara Jenkins—and it’s terrific for serving at the beginning of an outdoor summer party, or for a light meal when it’s just too darn hot to eat much of anything, let alone cook (Did I mention it requires no cooking whatsoever!? Just a blender and a bowl.).

What is so clever about this dish is that it takes the traditional appetizer of melon topped with slices of prosciutto (and when I make it, a squeeze of lemon juice) and turns it into something unique.
Now, some people (small people who are related to you) might be put off by the idea of melon soup.
So if you fear the doubters do what my mom did: tell the rugrats it’s ice cream soup. The stuff is so frothy and fruity, they might actually believe you.
For everybody else,  top it with either slices of ham or crisp bits of pancetta—you’ll be happy you did.

Cantaloupe Soup with crisp pancetta (adapted from Olives & Oranges by Sara Jenkins)
In a blender puree 1 cantaloupe melon (peeled, seeded, and cubed) and 1 medium cucumber (peeled, halved, and seeded). Once blended, transfer half of mixture to a large bowl.
To the remaining half in blender add:
1 cup plain low-fat Greek yogurt
3 tbls. sherry vinegar
1 tbls. minced shallots
1/2 tsp of fine sea salt
Puree until combined.
With motor running, add 1 cup of extra-virgin olive oil (try and use a good quality olive oil here) in a slow, steady stream. Blend until completely pureed.
Pour puree  into bowl with melon mixture and whisk to combine.
Cover bowl and chill in fridge for at least 3 hours or up to 1 day.
Before serving, stir soup well and adjust seasonings if necessary.
Serve topped with crisp bits of pancetta or thick slices of prosciutto (I even use sliced black forest ham in a pinch and it was delicious, you just want something salty and preferably to balance the sweet melon).
Drizzle soup with a little olive oil and a sprinkling of freshly ground pepper (if you’d like).
Enjoy!

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