What makes this such an unusual preparation is that the melon itself becomes the cooking pot and the serving tureen for the soup that is brewed in it. No feast in either a Buddhist or a Taoist temple would be complete without this soup.
In a pot bring 3cups of water to a boil. Add peanuts and simmer for 1 hour. Drain and set aside.
Place the wintermelon in its cook pot, for measurement purposes only, in this manner: Put a cake rack on the bottom of the pot; place melon on it. You will need a very large pot, such as a lobster pot. With a pencil mark the melon where it is even with the top of the pot. Remove melon and cake rack from pot. Cut melon straight across top at measurement line. Discard top.
Using a grapefruit knife or similar tool remove seeds and pulp of melon. Create a serrated edge around the rim of the melon. Place nuts, vegetables, and oil inside melon cavity. Pour in vegetable broth. Set melon aside.
Put 2 to 3inches of water in the cooking pot. As the water comes to a boil, prepare the melon: Tie 6 lengths of string to the rim of the cake rack. Place melon on the rack. Bring strings up over to the open top end and join together in one knot over center of the opening. The strings should be pulled tight to secure the melon.
Lift the melon by means of the knot and lower it into the boiling water. Cover pot and steam for at least 1 hour. Depending upon the age and size of the melon, cooking time will vary from 1 to 1½ hours. After the first hour, check every 8 or 10 minutes to see if the melon is tender. Do not overcook or the outer skin of the melon will begin to sag. The melon and the soup are done when the inside of the melon is tender.
To serve, lift the melon and rack from pot and place on an attractive plate. Cut strings and remove them. Ladle the soup into bowls, then carefully shave pieces of melon from the inside and place 1 or 2 pieces into each bowl.