Sunday, August 11, 2013

Chilled Watermelon Soup

The first time I had what was referred to as a "watermelon gazpacho," my initial reaction was a mixture of confusion, doubt, and curiosity.  I had never had a gazpacho that did not call for tomatoes, and as someone who (1) does not mind, but does not prefer, sweet things, and (2) does not mind, but does not prefer, cold soups, I was prepared to find it "okay" or "interesting" at best, but nothing I would ever seek out again, let alone recreate in my kitchen.  


I was captivated by the texture of tiny watermelon pulp bursting in my mouth, sweetness like velvet, accentuated by the tang of fresh citrus, and the zing of spicy chili pepper.  And I was impressed that the thought, "I'm having dessert soup right now" never crossed my mind.  It struck a  refreshing balance between sweet and savory, and the taste and Summertime nostalgic nature of watermelon was never lost or muddled.  It was the centerpiece, and the other ingredients simply served to highlight it.

So when I was strolling through the market recently and saw them bringing out the first beautiful watermelons of the season, my foodie muse took me briskly by the hand so I could choose the happiest looking one to bring home.  And aside from slicing it into triangles as big as my face to eat chilled as a contrast to the heat of the day radiating from the pavement and whistling warm through the air, I attempted my first chilled fruit soup.

And whether it was beginner's luck or the fact that this watermelon was beyond exceptional, the soup made my tastebuds sing and inspired a happy grin with each spoonful.  So much that I could not wait to make it again, not so much for me, but so that I could share it with others.  

Because when something tastes this good, you simply can't keep it to yourself.

Chilled Watermelon Soup with Cucumber & Daikon Radish
Gluten-Free, Vegan, & Raw

Active Prep Time:  10 minutes
Inactive Prep Time:  1-2 hours
Cooking Time:  none
Yield:  about 1 quart

3 c seedless watermelon
1/2 c cucumber, peeled and seeded
1/4 c fresh orange juice
1/8 c fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons ginger puree
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-2 pinches cayenne (optional)
3-4 sprigs mint

1/4 c daikon radish, peeled and finely diced
1/4 c cucumber, peeled, seeded, and finely diced
1/3 c seedless watermelon, finely diced
1/8 c watermelon rind, finely diced

extra virgin olive oil and coarse sea salt, to garnish

What you'll need:  Food processor or blender, large glass mason jar or container

1.  Combine watermelon, cucumber, juices, mint, and seasonings into food processor or blender and run until roughly smooth.  
2.  Transfer to your container and add finely diced radish, cucumber, watermelon, and watermelon rind and stir to combine.  The watermelon rind adds nice tartness and texture, and I also liked using it since it means less waste when breaking down the watermelon.  And if daikon radish is either not available, or perhaps not your favorite, feel free to substitute jicama, Asian pear, or more cucumber.
3.  Chill to allow flavors to come together. 
4.  Serve in chilled bowls and garnish with a swirl of olive oil, a sprinkle of sea salt, and additional herbs or diced cucumber, watermelon, or daikon if you like.

Look at that color - Such a perfect watermelon. 

Mise en place.

Chill me.

Did you blink?  I will have to say that this may be one of the simplest, least labor intensive, recipes I have shared to date here.  And to have something be so easy to make and wonderfully delicious is a testament to the fact that when the ingredients are in season and full of flavor, allow them to speak for themselves.  [insert sound of someone tapping on the mic]


  1. Jonathan, it looks and sounds delicious! I had a dream about watermelon last night!

    1. Watermelon in season is definitely the stuff of dreams. :)


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