Prep time: 30 minutes, plus chilling time
Serves 4 to 6
Note: Recipe adapted by the Los Angeles Times from chef Todd Aarons at Tierra Sur in Oxnard.
2 cups cubed French baguette or batard, all crusts removed, and cut into small cubes (about 1 baguette), divided
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons white wine, Champagne or sherry vinegar
4 cups cubed, peeled and seeded melons (preferably heirloom, such as Sugar Queen, butterscotch, Ogen, Ananas)
1/4 cup diced red onion
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra oil for frying the croutons
3 dried bay leaves, ground to a powder
1/2 cup ice cubes, or as needed
Smoked paprika, garnish
In a bowl, soak 1 1/2 cups cubed bread in the vinegar.
Meanwhile, using a blender or food processor, purée the melons and red onion. Add the soaked bread and vinegar to the food processor and purée until completely smooth.
With the motor running, slowly add the 1/4 cup olive oil, then the ground bay leaves. Taste, and adjust the seasoning with salt.
If the soup is overly thick, add a few ice cubes and purée until the desired consistency is achieved. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and vinegar.
Transfer the soup to a nonreactive metal bowl and chill before serving. This makes about 4 cups soup.
While the soup is chilling, fry the garnish. Pan-fry the remaining cubes of bread in a hot skillet with a little olive oil until evenly toasted and golden-brown. Season to taste with a light sprinkling of salt.
Serve the soup, garnished with a few croutons and a sprinkling of paprika.
Each of 6 servings: 145 calories; 2 g protein; 14 g carbohydrates; 1 g fiber; 10 g fat; 1 g saturated fat; 0 cholesterol; 7 g sugar; 93 mg sodium.