Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Chilled Honeydew Coconut Milk Soup

It's hot. And sticky. And apparently, it's going to get even hotter and stickier this week. Usually this is when I make a batch of gazpacho--but I did that a couple of weeks ago during the last heat wave and I'm kind of over it for now. Yeah, I made too much.

Last week I came across a display of orange-flesh honeydew melons and knowing how beautifully sweet they are, I picked one up. And the wheels started turning. Chilled honeydew soup! Oh, how perfect! Yogurt? Check. Mint? Check. I could even add some Persian cucumbers. Or maybe I'd make a smoothie and add some baby kale. And then I thought, oy, melon, mint, and yogurt; that's so obvious. So I scoured my pantry and discovered a can of light coconut milk. Ah, here we go! It sent me off in a totally different Southeast Asian-style direction. I had a little container of kaffir lime leaf powder from Specialty Produce that would work perfectly. All I needed was lime juice and ginger. And maybe some honey.

Ginger. I don't know about you but when I buy ginger, I use a bit of a knob and then store it away for the future in the fridge or just keep it on the counter. Invariably it shrivels into the saddest little root and I end up tossing it. Well, I was done with that. I knew I could freeze it--but I don't like the texture of whole frozen ginger root. So I poked around a little online and, voila, thanks to The Kitchn, realized I could peel a hand of the root, grate it, measure it off in teaspoons, and freeze it. Did you know this? Well, if so, why didn't you tell me?

I actually did it a little differently. I didn't peel the root and instead of grating it, I pulled out my mini food processor, sliced sliced it up, and ground it as fine as I could. Then I used a mini cookie scoop, which measures about a teaspoon, and before I knew it I had more than a dozen scoops of ginger on a parchment-lined pan. I put the pan in the freezer. Two hours or so later, I placed those now-frozen ginger rounds in a little freezer bag so I can have what I need when I need it. And sans waste.

That was over the weekend. When I decided to make my honeydew soup, I pulled out a round of ginger and gathered the rest of the ingredients--all five of them--and puréed them together in my Vitamix. In other words, on a sweltering day when you don't want to be in the kitchen, you'll be in for all of 10 minutes, including clean up.

Now you probably will only need five of the six ingredients. I added a touch of honey, but I don't think it was really necessary since the melon was so sweet. I would add it to a version of this made with cantaloupe, however. Be modest with the kaffir lime leaf powder and the ginger. You don't want to overpower the mild honeydew, just complement it.

The result is a bright, refreshing creamy liquid that sings honeydew but has delightful background notes of acid from the lime juice and bite from the ginger and kaffir lime leaf powder. Enjoy this with a salad for a light meal on a sultry day. Or pour it into a glass with ice for a chilly drink.

Chilled Honeydew Coconut Milk Soup
(printable recipe)
Yield: 2 cups

1/2 honeydew melon (about 2 cups), seeded and cut into chunks
1/2 cup light coconut milk
1 teaspoon ginger, minced or grated
1 pinch kaffir lime leaf powder (available at Specialty Produce or spice shops)
Juice from one lime
Drizzle of honey

Combine all the ingredients. Puree in a blender until smooth. Chill for an hour before serving. Grate a little lime zest over the soup as garnish.

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