A Week of Soup, Day 2

by Marina Chotzinoff

All day long I considered the cantaloupe. It was going to be the star player in a soup that night and never having made cantaloupe soup before I was weighing my options. Prosciutto or pancetta seemed like natural pairings in some sort of crispy state, though I didn’t have any so I’d have to buy it if I went that direction. I thought about smoked paprika, shrimp, maybe even a cotija sprinkle. On the way home I stopped to get some pancetta and decided I’d grill some giant shrimp and have them lounging on the edge of the soup bowl.

Once home, I started taking things out of the fridge: some collard greens, leftover mac ‘n’ cheese, jalapenos, limes. I started cooking the pancetta spirals on a pan to crisp up and then I cut open the melon. Only it was not a beautiful orange. It was a neon, juicy green. Now I ain’t got nuthin’ official against a honeydew, but in all honesty they remind me of flavorless, hot garnishes on bad buffets or cloyingly sweet, cut-too-soon balls in catered fruit salads. I sighed. Loudly. This would not make a fabulous, orange soup dusted with smoked paprika and framed by orange and pink shrimp.

I took a bite. It was good. Florally and juicy. Sweet, but not too sweet. But I still couldn’t quite imagine eating a bowl of it liquified. So I threw it in the blender and added lime juice, jalapeno, cilantro and salt. Better. I added a cucumber. Better still. I finished with just a slight whap of yoghurt. Interesting.

I then turned to the shrimp. Instead of the paprika, I tossed it with lime juice, cilantro, oil, garlic. I slivered up the collard greens and sauteed them in oil with more garlic and a splash of sherry vinegar. I threw the shrimp in a hot panĀ  and then piled the whole mess on a plate. I tried dusting the top of the soup with crumbled and pancetta and some cotija, but Ryan took a bite and said no. No cheese on this. So we scooped it out. Bad idea.

I like how this photo came out as awful as most cookbooks I still have from the early ’60s. The photos are so unappealing as were, often, the meals themselves. This meal I think is borderline. There were parts we liked. There were parts that were just weird. I’m proud of myself for making a refreshing and good honeydew soup, but I will most likely never do it again.

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