Cantaloupe Gazpacho

May 26, 2010


Appetizers, Dinner, Local Eating, Lunch, Recipes, Seasons, Side Dishes, Soup, Summer

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I recently saw a mendicant at the corner of US 59 and Chimney Rock Road, beneath the highly trafficked underpass where the homeless often rest and beg. He was begging. Fortunately, I was prepared, half a bag of unwanted tortilla chips waiting in my passenger’s seat, crisp yellow and ready for the jowls of the hungry.

I rarely make a trip to that part of town without some kind of edible giveaway. As it turns out, the gentleman wanted nothing to do with my chips. I slowed to the red light and rolled down my window, preemptively joyful at making his day. He grinned toothlessly back: “Thanths but no thanths.” I drove away, dejected, and sheepish for my own good fortune. I am grateful for a lot of things, but not nearly grateful enough for my teeth. I now remember this gift in my prayers of thanks.


Do I sound like I’m being ironic? Because I am not. I am very serious. I am thrilled to have teeth. Thrilled that I can eat corn chips, broccoli tips, macadamia bits. All of those crunchy foods aside, my teeth have gotten a bit of a break lately. It’s Houston, it’s summer and it’s time for cold soup and ice cream. I have tried to share the wealth—driving to the corner with packed up pints of soup and a plastic spoon, but the toothless gentleman has not reappeared.

More often than not, my liquid inspirations come to me in corpse pose: just before my brain shuts down entirely, I have a vision of dinner. Lately, that has involved lots of pureed cucumbers, avocados, tomatoes—even melons. I know a lot of people like smoothies, but I’ve never taken to them. Something about soup just feels more like dinner. Even if it’s a smoothie eaten with a spoon.


But this is not that. Nobody puts red onion and jalepeños into smoothies. This is a savory, silky concoction that came to me long before savasana. I was in downward dog, one of the first of the evening, and it just happened to pop into my brain. And that was that. I knew I had to have it. And I knew I had to share it with my man from the bridge. Then my mind went blank—of course—for the remaining 86 minutes of my yoga practice.

The beauty of this soup, like so many, is that it just gets better with age. But unlike a warm soup, this takes just a minute to make. Christopher hadn’t even emerged from the shower before dinner was on the table: radiant, delicate, velvet cantaloupe gazpacho garnished with a flower from our own (yet unfruitful) melon vine. If Georgia O’Keeffe had painted soup, she’d have started with this. If I were a soup, this is what I’d like to be…sweet, salty and a with an unanticipated kick. And pink is the best color on a woman, of course. I hope the beggar at 59 finds love like this someday. I’ll keep trying.


Cantaloupe Gazpacho

1 large, ripe cantaloupe, in cubes
3 large, ripe tomatoes (not green), cored and roughly cubed
1 jalepeño pepper, diced
½ red onion, chopped
½ c fresh basil
Juice of 1 lemon
Dash of nutmeg
Salt and pepper

Blend everything together, adding herbs, pepper and spices to taste.
(I prefer my soup with the full pepper and all of the lemon.)

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