Roasted Cantaloupe and Shrimp Bisque

 

I had a delicious calzone topped with a balsamic roasted cantaloupe and arugula at Portland's Oven and Shaker recently. I had never had nor thought of roasted cantaloupe, but it was surprisingly good -- it still tasted like melon, but deeper and almost squash-like. I knew I wanted to incorporate it into a sweet and savory dish, but I didn't have much direction. The shellfish contest got me to thinking, “how can I use roasted canteloupe with shellfish?” I tried it with crab in a salad and was underwhelmed, so I decided to use it in a soup. The color reminded me of shrimp bisque, so that's the direction I went. I didn't want the base to be overly fishy, so I went with chicken stock. The resulting soup was mildly sweet with a little bit of spice. The shrimp and cantaloupe flavors balanced each other out, while the addition of a little bacon, cayenne, allspice, and sherry vinegar rounded everything out. Give it a try for your next fancy dinner party.

What you will need

1 large cantaloupe (about 5 lbs)

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt, plus additional to taste

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 thick-cut slices hickory smoked bacon

1 pound large shrimp

1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)

1 fennel bulb, bulb chopped and fronds set aside

1 medium to large cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup Sauvignon Blanc

1 quart chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

1/8 teaspoon cayenne

1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fennel fronds*, plus additional for garnish

Freshly ground black pepper

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