Soup Glacée of Cavillon Melon
Cafe Boulud Cookbook, 1999
Makes 4 servings
The melon of choice for this refreshing, heady concoction – a soup glacée, a chilled soup – is the highly perfumed Cavillon, a small orange fleshed melon that’s grown in France, Spain and the Caribbean.
Expensive even in France, they can be very expensive and a bit difficult to find here, but in its place you can use cantaloupe.
The important thing is to buy melon with a fragrance strong enough to set your head spinning when you sniff it at the market. Aroma is one of the primary pleasures of this soup, in which one portion of the melon is cooked down to concentrate its flavor and another is added to the soup broth, it’s fruitiness Fresh and untouched. I think you’ll find the base of the soup – cream infused with lemongrass, purple basil, and a touch of kaffir lime leaf - an unexpected but inspired match for the melon.
4 ripe Cavillon melons or two large very ripe cantaloupe, peeled, have, and seeded
1. Cut enough of one of the melons into quarter inch dice to make 1/2 cup and set aside, covered, in the refrigerator. Cut the rest of the melon into small chunks and toss the chunks into a food processor; whir to purée
2. Pour out 1/4 cup of the purée and keep it covered in the refrigerator. Pour the rest of the purée into a small sauce pan and cook it over medium heat until it reduces just a bit, about 10 minutes. Pour the hot purée into a bowl and set the bowl into another larger bowl filled with ice cubes and water. Keep the purée over ice until needed, or, once it’s cooled down, cover it and put it in the refrigerator. (The purée can be kept, covered, in the refrigerator for up to four hours.)
The soup base:
1 stalk lemongrass
1 whole star anise
1 cinnamon stick
10 fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
8 black peppercorns
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 small kaffir lime leaf (optional)
Grated zest and juice of one lime
3 1/4 inch thick slices of peeled ginger
1 sprig basil, opal basil if available
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
Three drops of Tabasco sauce
1. You’re going to be using some of the lemongrass for the soup base and some for the garnish, so it’s most convenient to prepare it both now. Discard the outer part of the stalk, trim the lemon grass so that it’s about 5 inches long, and cut the white bulb away from the green stalk. Peel away the tough outer leaf from the bulb and finely chop enough of the tender heart of the lemongrass (the inside of the white bulb)to make 1 tablespoon – you’ll use this for garnish; cover and refrigerate.
2. Put the star anise, cinnamon stick, fennel seeds, coriander seeds, and peppercorns in a medium sauce pan over medium heat and warm, shaking the pan until the spices are toasted and very aromatic, about four minutes. Add the cream, the kaffir lime leaf, if you’re using it, half the lime zest (reserve the rest for the garnish), ginger, basil, and the bruised lemongrass stalk. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for five minutes. Season with salt and pepper and simmer for five minutes more. Strain the soup base into a bowl and set the bowl into an ice water bath to cool.
3. When the base is well chilled, stir in both the reserved 1/4 cup uncooked melon and the cooked purée, Tabasco, and half of the lime juice (save the rest to finish the soup). Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if you want it. Strain the soup again and keep it refrigerated until needed.
The reserved melon dice, lemongrass, and lime juice and zest (from above)
1 sprig basil, opal if available, leaves only, finally chopped, plus 2 sprigs, leaves only (left hole)
1 small kaffir lime leaf, finally chopped (optional)
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
1 sprig cilantro, leaves only
Put the diced melon in a bowl and season it with the reserved chopped lemongrass, lime juice, and zest, the chopped basil, and the kaffir lime leaves, if you are using it. Add salt and pepper, if needed, and just a drop or two of Tabasco.
For each serving, spoon 1/4 of the diced melon into the center of a chilled small Soup Bowl and top with a few whole basil and cilantro leaves. Pour the well chilled soup around the garnish and serve immediately, while everything is really cold.
To drink: and Oregon Pinot Blanc with bright melon flavors