Three Melon Soup is a sum­mer show­stop­per

The Hamilton Spectator - - FOOD - SARA MOUL­TON

Three Melon Soup, a real show­stop­per, is as much fun to look at as it is re­fresh­ing to eat.

The key, though, is to start with the ripest and most fra­grant fruits avail­able. In the case of can­taloupes and hon­ey­dews, the first move is to smell the stem end to make sure it smells strongly of melon. With wa­ter­melon, be­gin by search­ing for a large yel­low spot on the out­side — a sign that the melon ripened for a good long time in the sun. (Water­mel­ons don’t ro­tate as they ripen; the yel­low spot marks the part never ex­posed to the sun. The larger the spot, the longer it ripened.)

Given its nat­u­ral sweet­ness, melon cries out for an acidic coun­ter­point. Cit­rus is the best choice. Here we use orange, lemon and lime, one for each of the three mel­ons — al­though lemon or lime will work for the group of them if you’d pre­fer not to buy all three types. Also, the amount of cit­rus pre­scribed is given as a range be­cause an in­di­vid­ual melon may need more or less acid de­pend­ing on its sweet­ness. Start with the small­est amount, adding more un­til it’s no longer flat.

This soup’s blaz­ing good looks — a kalei­do­scope of red, yel­low and green — re­sult from the fact that each of the three purées keeps to it­self. And you don’t need to be a pro­fes­sional food stylist to pull off this trick — just spoon the purées into sep­a­rate parts of the bowl.

I of­fer this recipe in two ver­sions: plain or fancy. The for­mer is gar­nished with sour cream or yo­gurt, straw­ber­ries and mint. The lat­ter boasts a savoury gar­nish: salty cheese, tor­tilla strips and sliced chilies.

All of the purées can be pre­pared sev­eral days ahead of time, and you can dou­ble or triple the recipe with no prob­lem, which makes it a per­fect can­di­date for a large back­yard party.

Three Melon Soup MAKES 4 SERV­INGS

3 cups coarsely chopped hon­ey­dew melon, plus ½ cup small cubes hon­ey­dew melon 2 to 4 ta­ble­spoons fresh lime juice 3 cups coarsely chopped seed­less wa­ter­melon, plus ½ cup small cubes wa­ter­melon 2 to 4 tbsp fresh lemon juice 3 cups coarsely chopped can­taloupe melon, plus ½ cup small cubes can­taloupe melon ¼ cup plus 2 tbsp orange juice Tra­di­tional gar­nishes: ½ cup chopped straw­ber­ries ¼ cup sour cream Fresh mint leaves Savoury gar­nishes: ½ cup crushed tor­tilla chips 1/3 cup crum­bled feta cheese 1 small ser­rano, sliced thin cross­wise

Start to fin­ish: 3 hours, 50 min­utes (50 ac­tive)

In a blen­der com­bine the coarsely chopped hon­ey­dew with 2 ta­ble­spoons of the lime juice and blend un­til finely puréed. Taste and add more lime juice if nec­es­sary.

Trans­fer to a bowl, rinse out the blen­der and add the coarsely chopped wa­ter­melon and 2 ta­ble­spoons of the lemon juice. Blend un­til finely puréed; taste and add more lemon juice if nec­es­sary.

Trans­fer to a bowl, rinse out the blen­der and add the coarsely chopped can­taloupe, orange juice and 1 ta­ble­spoon lemon juice. Blend un­til finely puréed; taste and add more lemon juice if nec­es­sary. Trans­fer to a bowl.

Chill all three melon purées for at least three hours.

To serve: Re­move the purées from the re­frig­er­a­tor and stir each one (the wa­ter in the melon will sep­a­rate out as it sits). Spoon or pour equal amounts of each purée into each of four bowls and gar­nish with ei­ther the tra­di­tional or savoury gar­nishes.

Per serv­ing: 194 calo­ries (30 from fat); 3 grams fat (2 g sat­u­rated; 0 g trans fats); 10 mil­ligrams choles­terol; 56 mg sodium; 41 g car­bo­hy­drate; 3 g fi­bre; 35 g su­gar; 4 g protein.

SARA MOUL­TON, THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

This soup’s blaz­ing good looks — a kalei­do­scope of red, yel­low and green — re­sult from the fact that each of the three purées keeps to it­self.

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