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Gluten Free Cantaloupe Soup

Jul 01, 2015 04:00PM ● By Cate Reynolds
By Alison Rose Munn

This week I received my first of hopefully many lessons in Southern cooking from a wonderful southern lady. I have worked throughout the South and used to look forward to eating out whenever gigs took me down to the states sporting the delicious cuisine. Then I was diagnosed with a gluten allergy and I found that so much of the food included wheat that eating out wasn’t worth the effort. This summer I am once again working in the south and decided to learn all I can about cooking southern food with the hope of adapting recipes to be gluten free and just as delicious.

The recipe we had planned to learn this week included beer and bread crumbs and I was very excited to finally have the chance to eat a GF version of a dish I’ve been missing… But when I walked into the grocery I was greeted by a big bin of cantaloupes - We couldn’t deny the fact that it’s cantaloupe season! (June – August are the best months to buy cantaloupe – the rest of the year they are usually shipped in from South America and have been off the vine for quite a while.) And so my first lesson in southern cooking ended up being a surprising one in the form of a cold soup, a Cantaloupe Soup, “A southern North Carolina favorite, perfect for luncheons, baby showers, and even breakfast.”

Now, soups can be hard for the gluten free. It’s one of those foods that has what I call “hidden gluten.” Noodle soups are obvious but creamy ones not so much. Wheat flour is a fantastic thickener so it’s often used to bulk up the consistency of soups. To my delight, this soup does not need any thickening and is naturally gluten free!

After learning the delicious traditional recipe – cantaloupe, orange juice, cinnamon, and salt – we decided to play around with it. The recipe below is a combination of ideas I found in a variety of alternative recipes and my own inspiration (with the stamp of approval from my southern instructor). The original is refreshing and mouthwatering as is, but I love the ideas of making the soup a bit creamy and of adding a kick to it with a touch of ginger. I use a scoop of sour cream but if you prefer Greek yogurt works just as well. As for the ginger, I add it slowly, taste testing it along the way (and as the soup mellows the ginger flavor will enhance). I also really love the chopped walnut garnish – it gives this refreshing dish a touch of crunchy goodness!

SOUP INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 medium cantaloupe, cut into chunks
  • ½ cup sour cream (or plain Greek yogurt)
  • 3 tbsp fresh grated ginger (to taste)
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • Dash of sea salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • Small bunch of fresh basil

FOR THE GARNISH:

  • Chopped walnuts
  • Extra basil
  • Extra sour cream

PREPARATION:

  1. Removing the rind, chop cantaloupe into chunks.
  2. Chop a handful of basil leaves, grate the ginger.
  3. Throw all the ingredients into a blender or food processor (I squeeze the lime juice directly in – be sure to remove any seeds first!). Blend until pureed.
  4. Chill for at least 3 hours.
  5. Before serving, garnish with a dollop of sour cream, fresh basil, and a ring of finely chopped walnuts.

Note: I used to find picking the perfect cantaloupe to be utterly befuddling… The trick is to take a whiff of the spot where the stem was attached. If it’s ripe, it will smell just like a juicy slice of cantaloupe.