Cantaloupe Soup With Crispy Ham and Basil
Category: Soups & Salads | Blog URL: http://foodietots.com/2009/08/04/at-market-cantaloupe-soup-with-ham-and-basil/
This recipe was entered in The Foodista Best of Food Blogs Cookbook contest, a compilation of the world’s best food blogs which was published in Fall 2010.
Photo: C. Levine
For a good portion of my life, I hated cantaloupe. I would eat honeydew and watermelon without a second thought, but carefully, obsessively, pick out any orange-fleshed melon pieces from fruit salads. When the Foodie Tot was born, the husband and I agreed to introduce him to foods we hated without prejudice and let him form his own opinions. (That meant bananas and cantaloupe for me, and many green vegetables for the husband.) I’ve learned to cope with bananas ripening on the counter, despite my continued abhorrence of the sight and smell of brown spots, but was surprised to discover last summer that sweet, locally-grown cantaloupe is actually enjoyable. People often assume that melon is less nutritious because of its high water contents, but in fact cantaloupe is loaded with beta-carotene and vitamins A and C, potassium, folate and fiber, making it a nutrition power house. It’s peak melon season now locally, and most produce stands at local farmers markets offer an array of melons in shades of orange, yellow, green and red. Pick one that is still firm to the touch but smell the stem end to test for ripeness — the sweeter the better.
Of course my Italian heritage demands that I serve melon draped in prosciutto, and the Southern Maryland/Virginia melons found at our local farmers markets are perfectly suited for the task. Inspired by that classic sweet-salty pairing, I decided to try my hand at a cantaloupe soup. We ventured out in the rain to the West End Alexandria market Sunday — because Foodie Tots are not fair weather market fans — and the dark, gloomy day put me in the mood for soup. This simple soup could be served warm or chilled. It’s topped with crispy prosciutto-style ham and fried basil leaves. I can’t call this toddler-approved as the foodie tot spit it out in a fussy refusing to eat rebellion, but if your kid is in a less finicky mood I suspect they might at least be slightly intrigued by this sweet, orange soup.