Lockdown Recipe of the Day: Chilled Spanspek Soup

Lockdown Recipe of the Day: Chilled Spanspek Soup
Lightly curried spanspek soup, to be served chilled. (Photo: Louis Pieterse)

Spanspek is in the shops again. I’ve been making variations of this dish for many years since I first came up with the idea in the early '90s. This version calls for orange, spearmint, garlic and cardamom.

Spanspek, aka cantaloupe, is said to have got its South African name from Sir Harry Smith’s Spanish wife Juana’s dislike for bacon and preference for this honey-sweet melon for breakfast.

Her chefs took to calling it Spaanse spek, or Spanish bacon, and the name somehow stuck. We may never know how true this story is.

It must be served super-chilled and is a treat in the middle of a hot day.


1 spanspek (canteloupe/ sweet melon)
1 orange
1 onion
1 stick celery
2 garlic cloves
3 sprigs spearmint
1 star anise
6 cardamom pods
Olive oil
750ml chicken or vegetable stock
1 or 2 tsp masala

Soften the finely chopped onion, celery and garlic in olive oil over a moderate heat. Add orange juice and zest, star anise, cardamom, mint and the juice of an orange and simmer, stirring now and then, for 10 minutes. (Any mint will do but I happen to grow spearmint.)

Discard the outer shell and seeds of the spanspek. Add the flesh of the spanspek and simmer for 5 minutes more, stirring now and then.

Add 750ml stock, season lightly with salt and pepper, bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes.

Cool, remove star anise and cardamom pods and any strands of mint you can find, and blend the rest to a fine consistency.

Chill and serve with a drizzle of yoghurt and mint. DM168/TGIFood

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