Tomato and Watermelon Gazpacho
By Miriam Rubin
Cold soups are a wonderful part of summer and gazpacho is a time-honored favorite. Often it’s made with juicy, dead-ripe, fresh tomatoes. Nothing wrong with that, but since tomatoes are a fruit, why not explore using other fruits in combination with tomatoes in gazpacho? The sweet acidity of tomatoes blends beautifully with tree fruits such as peaches and nectarines, but it’s fabulous with watermelon. To make this as easy as possible, I’m using tomato juice instead of fresh tomatoes.
To speed the prep even more, purchase pre-cut watermelon chunks or buy a wedge from a larger watermelon to cut up. But I prefer the small “individual” sweet, seedless watermelons you can find these days. Actually to me they seem like a watermelon for two, and a few pieces for our dog, Lark. She also loves watermelon.
The combination of processed tomatoes and watermelon is a lycopene dream. Since lycopene is more available to us when eaten with a little oil, the fruity, extra virgin olive oil that’s traditional in this Spanish dish helps as well. Chill the tomato juice before you start so the pureed soup will chill even faster. I prefer tomato juice from plastic or glass bottles instead of cans, which sometimes impart a tinny flavor.
Tomato and Watermelon Gazpacho
When I was in Spain, I was often served gazpachos topped with chopped hard-boiled eggs, peeled fava beans, and sometimes, bits of Serrano ham. So if you wanted to make this heartier, you could add those, or some chickpeas. If you don’t have both mint and basil growing in your garden or don’t feel like buying them, it’s fine to use one or the other.
4 cups cubed seedless watermelon
3 cups chilled tomato juice
½ hothouse cucumber, peeled and sliced (about 1 cup)
½ cup coarsely chopped red bell pepper
¼ cup coarsely chopped red onion
1 small garlic clove, peeled
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
½ cup finely diced peeled hothouse cucumber
½ cup finely diced red bell pepper
3 to 4 tablespoons finely chopped red onion, to taste
3 tablespoons slivered fresh mint leaves, plus mint sprigs to garnish
3 tablespoons slivered fresh basil
To make the soup:
- In a food processor, put about 1 cup of the watermelon chunks, about ½ cup of the tomato juice, the cucumber, bell pepper, red onion and garlic. Process the ingredients to a fairly smooth puree. Scrape into a pitcher or bowl. Process the remaining watermelon with some of the juice, in batches, if necessary. Add to the soup.
- Add the remaining tomato juice, the olive oil, vinegar, salt, cayenne, and black pepper. Stir well to mix and taste, adding more salt or vinegar, if desired. Cover and chill at least 1 hour, until cold and the flavors have blended. Taste before serving.
- Ladle into bowls and top each with some of the garnish ingredients, finishing with a tiny mint sprig, if desired.
Makes 4 to 6 servings
Copyright 2014 Miriam Rubin
Miriam Rubin is the author of “Tomatoes: A Savor the South tm Cookbook” published by the University of North Carolina Press. She grows tomatoes and plenty of other fruits and vegetables in her large kitchen garden in southwestern Pennsylvania. She writes the column “Miriam’s Garden” for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and contributes to their food pages. She’s also a contributing recipe developer for Organic Gardening. Her website is http://www.miriamrubin.com and she’s on Twitter @mmmrubin.