With the temperature slowly inching it’s way to not freezing/kind of warm, let’s all get excited about delicious and fun things to eat in sundresses, shorts and open-toed shoes. David Kinch starts off this cool soup with a very ripe melon and uses all the juices surrounding the seed pockets for its fruit pectin, a natural thickening agent. Combined with onions, silken tofu and some seasoning, this soup will make a great first course to your inaugural al fresco dinner party of the year.
RECIPE FOR COOL MELON SOUP “CONFIT,” SILKEN ALMOND TOFU
1 large melon, very ripe, preferably Persian or Crenshaw
4 ounces (about ½ cup) silken tofu
¼ cup shiro dashi (Japanese white soy sauce)
½ cup unsalted butter
1 medium white onion, thinly sliced
¼ cup Marcona almonds, lightly toasted
4 tablespoons almond oil, preferably cold pressed, extra virgin variety
fresh chervil sprigs
sea salt to taste
sherry vinegar to taste
- Pass the tofu through a fine sieve. Stir in the shiro dashi to taste. Refrigerate until needed.
- Cut the melon in half horizontally. With a spoon, carefully scrape the seeds and strings out of the center of each melon half and place into a strainer. Make sure to catch all the juice. With the back of the spoon, press lightly on the seeds and strings to collect all of the juice. (This juice is extremely high in natural pectin and will contribute to the texture of the finished soup.) Discard the seeds and strings and set the collected juice aside
- Peel each of the remaining melon halves. Using a small melon baller, portion out about 6 tablespoons of melon balls. Season them with sea salt and sherry vinegar to taste, and set aside for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, chop the rest of the melon into large pieces the size of a golf ball.
- After 30 minutes, drain the excess liquid from the melon balls. Discard the liquid and set the melon ball “confit” aside.
- Place the butter and onions in a large pot over medium-low heat. Stirring frequently, lightly sauté the onions until the butter is completely melted and the onions are translucent.
- Add the large melon pieces plus the collected juice to the onions and cover with parchment paper. (The parchment paper should be cut to sit directly on the surface of the soup.) Stir occasionally over low heat until the melon has softened but not disintegrated. It is important to maintain the melon in a half cooked, half raw state. (You may want to use a thermometer. The melon is finished when it reaches about 160°F.)
- Puree the melon soup in a blender and then pass through a fine sieve. Adjust the seasoning using only salt, then immediately chill, preferably on ice. When the soup is completely chilled, it is ready to serve.
To Serve: Ladle a portion of the soup into a chilled bowl. Place a heaping teaspoon of the tofu mixture in the center. Place a toasted almond and a small amount of the melon ball “confit” on top of the tofu. Spoon some almond oil on top and garnish with a chervil sprig. Serve immediately.