I hear this California Indian Summer has every intention of sticking around for a little while longer, and while I'm mighty grateful for a slight dip in the temperature over the last couple of days, the fact of the matter is that I'm still lugging the fan around from room to room at home, sticking my head in the freezer in the kitchen and maxing out the A/C in the car.
But surely there must be other ways to stay cool besides sticking your face in a blast of cold air? Ah, yes. With food of course! Duh. While there are any number of lovely foods you could eat to help you chill out, I for one can't think of a better way to beat the heat than with a refreshing, cold soup. Heaven forbid we turn on the oven when it's pushing 90 (or even 80) outside!
This chilled melon soup comes together with minimal effort- just whiz all the ingredients in a blender, stick it in the fridge to chill and that's that. Well, that could be that if that's all you want, but why not double down on the cooling effects of this dish by whipping up a hot, spicy chile oil to drizzle into your soup?
What's that? You didn't know that eating spicy food can actually help to cool you down? Let me break it down for you real simple like: Eating spicy foods raises your internal temperature which causes you to sweat, and as the moisture evaporates, you are effectively cooled down. So there you go. Plus, it's super tasty and makes your melon soup way more badass.
for the soup:
1 cantaloupe or Tuscan melon, seeded and chopped
1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
1 large shallot, minced
1/2 cup water
3 tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
Thai basil leaves, for garnish
Thai chiles, thinly sliced, for garnish
for the chile oil:
1/2 oz. dried Thai chiles
1/2 tsp. Szechuan peppercorns
1/2 cup olive oil or peanut oil
pinch of salt
1. Place melon, cucumber, shallot, water and olive oil in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth, Season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or until chilled.
2. To make chile oil, place chiles and peppercorns in a food processor and pulse until coarsely ground.
3. Heat olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat and add chile and peppercorn mixture. Continue to cook over moderate heat for an additional 5 minutes. Add salt, remove from heat and allow to cool completely before using.
4. To serve, ladle chilled soup into bowls and garnish with chile oil, chile slices and Thai basil.