It all began with a broken stick blender. A few weeks ago as I was trying to puree some fruit for our son the immersion blender we’ve had for well over a decade finally called it quits. Through the efficient wonder of the ‘Everything Store’ a new blender arrived on our doorstep the very same day. The next morning I was back at it with some fresh Tuscan melon and as I was pureeing, I was looking at the rest of the melon sitting on the counter and thinking that’ll be great with some prosciutto or jamon. That’s when I noticed the melon puree was quite thin. And that’s the moment this cold melon soup idea was born.
Seriously, that’s how my mind works coming up with these things. Most of the time at least. One minute it’s prosciutto wrapped melon the next it’s whoa what about a soup with crisped up bits of jamon? Same classic flavors but in different form. Pretty sure I’m not the first to think of this, I always say if you’ve thought of it chances are someone else has too. Regardless, it’s a refreshing cold appetizer for a hot day, lunch or dinner. Heck, probably even breakfast. Anyway, the soup needed a little more to it so…what other combos would work?
The other places I look when I’m working an idea are a couple of books on my pantry shelf, The Flavor Bible and The Flavor Matrix. Good sources for pairing suggestions. Watercress was one ingredient which popped up, peppery, green, a little softer texture than crispy jamon, and would add some color contrast.
Some other interesting melon pairing ideas from Flavor Matrix were: mushrooms, mustard, olives, clams, and corn. Might have to try a corn pairing since we’re heading into the season. In the end I kept it fairly simple with just the cress and jamon, but added some dried capers to round it out nice little bursts of herbal saltiness (a food dehydrator is nice to have for these little things).
I didn’t strain the melon or pass it through a fine sieve on this go around but would like to try it and get the finished soup a little bit smoother. Not that this was very grainy or chunky but I feel it could be a little more…ummm…refined.
Ingredients (a normal sized melon will make around four 8oz servings): one ripe melon, 1/2-1 C of plain yogurt (optional for some body if you want thicker), 4 pieces of jamon Serrano (or prosciutto or even bacon), large bunch of watercress, caper berries (preferably dehydrated but not necessary), flaky sea salt.
Scoop out the de-seeded flesh of a ripe melon (cantaloupe/musk melon type) and puree with a stick blender or food processor until smooth. Pour into a bowl, cover and refrigerate to chill for a few hours. Puree in the morning and let it sit all day for dinner. You want this soup cooooold!
Take the jamon and cut into short, thin strips. Ribbons of jamon. Heat up a frying pan on the stove over medium heat, add the strips of jamon. You can add a little bit of olive oil once they start to crisp in order to slow things down a little and add some fat since the jamon isn’t as fatty as bacon. Once crispy, remove the bits from the pan and set aside on a paper towel.
Wash and trim your watercress. Ladle the pureed melon into the bowl. Place a fingers-full pinch of watercress into the bowl. Scatter the crispy jamon and capers on top. Season with a decent pinch of sea salt. Enjoy, sit back and bask in the glory of all the accolades everyone throws at you for making such a flavorful, cold soup.