Chilled Melon Soup with Lavender
This is my version of a soup I had at a restaurant in Forcalquier several years ago. It isn’t a sweet soup, as you might think. Instead, the melon plays a background role, changed by the addition of onion, olive oil, salt, pepper, and the peppery lavender into a delicious savory. Add the seasonings little by little as you go, and you will experience the taste change. I like this soup hot as well. A friend of mine makes it in the summer, freezes it, then has it hot in the winter. Can be made a day ahead.
1 ½ pound melon, such as cantaloupe, honeydew, or Gallia
2/3 small onion or 2 small shallots, to make about ¼ cup
1 ½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ – 1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ teaspoons dried lavender
Halve, seed, peel, and cube the melon to make 4 to 5 cups. Chop the onion or shallots. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan or casserole with a tightly fitting lid over medium heat. When it is hot, add the onions and sauté them until they are faintly golden, about 4 minutes. Add the melon cubes, sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon of salt, ½ teaspoon of the pepper, and half the lavender, and sauté until the melon has slightly softened, turning often. This will take about 4 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until the melon is very soft, 10 to 15 minutes. Puree with an immersible or traditional blender. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed to achieve a savory, lightly peppery taste. Let cool and refrigerate immediately at least for several hours and up to 24. For an extra chill, place in the freezer for 30 minutes before serving. Just before serving, garnish with the remaining lavender.