During the warm summer days of August, there is nothing better to keep you cool and well nourished than a bowl of gazpacho. I took a break from the never ending pile of tomatoes that I am canning to make this gazpacho that is ironically, or was that intentionally, made without tomatoes In this version, the delicate flavors of watermelon and cucumber go hand in hand to make a sweet and savory soup. A natural combination, since both cucumbers and watermelons, along with all varieties of squash, are members of the cucurbit family.
Choose your watermelon carefully, it should be dull in color, a shiny melon indicates that it’s underripe. It should also be uniform in size, an irregular shape indicates inconsistent amounts of water or sun. Check out the field patch, the place that the watermelon rested on the ground. A creamy yellow indicates that the melon had a longer time to ripen on the vine and develop more flavor. When you pick it up, the melon should feel heavy for it’s size. Watermelons are 92% water and the ripest ones have the highest water content. This is the prime time for cucumbers at the farmers markets. I am fortunate that I can pick fresh cucumbers right from the garden. They are abundant and nothing compares to the sweet juicy sweet flavor of a just picked one.
In the spirit of the season, no cooking is required for this recipe. The most time consuming part of this recipe is cutting the vegetables, but it is a worthwhile step. They stay cool and crispy in the soup and are a nice contrast to the watermelon-cucumber broth. Adjust the balance of savory and sweet, along with the amount of mint and heat according to your own taste. Refrigerate for several hours before serving so the flavors will have time to blend together, it’s even better if you have time, to refrigerate overnight. If you do refrigerate overnight, adjust the seasonings again since the cubed melon will exude more liquid and potentially dull the flavor. This soup would be perfect as a first course on a warm summer evening.
Watermelon Cucumber Gazpacho
- 1 3-pound seedless watermelon, diced (about 5 cups), divided
- 1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, diced (about 2 cups)
- 1 medium-size red bell pepper, seeded, diced (about 1 cup)
- 1 medium-size yellow bell pepper, seeded, diced (about 1 cup)
- 1 small jalapeño chile, seeded, minced
- 3 pale green inner celery stalks, diced (about 1/2 cup)
- 1/2 small red onion, diced (about 1 cup)
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint
- 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Puree 4 cups watermelon in blender until smooth. Transfer puree to large bowl. Add remaining 1 cup diced watermelon and next 10 ingredients; stir to combine. Cover gazpacho and refrigerate until cold, at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours.