In a heat wave, there is nothing more refreshing than watermelon – except maybe chilled soup. Combining the two is genius. Watermelon Gazpacho with Feta Crema does just that. And with a bit of panache, too.
You may already know about my love of watermelon. I use it in beverages such as agua fresca, ice pops, an elegant dessert, and even in curry. I’ve even done a definitive guide to pairing watermelon with herbs and spices.
And I’m no slouch when it comes to chilled soups, either. Gazpacho is one of my favorites. Up til now, my easy go-to gazpacho has been this one, a rather traditional take on this summery starter. But it turns out that the addition of watermelon takes the flavor of the soup in an unexpectedly delicious direction. I still like the traditional one. However, I have a new appreciation for what watermelon can add to a dish.
My downfall as a food shopper is overbuying produce. Typically, I intend to use up fruit and veggies at their peak, but despair when I realize that I’ve bought too much. This time, the overbuying happened at a farm stand (a single vendor, rather than a farmer’s market) on our way back from New York City.
A farmstand on the road between New York City and Washington DC? How did I find that? Well, if you drive I-95 the whole way north or south between cities on the East Coast, you’re really missing something. Blue highways are the best! The farm stand we stopped at, on Route 40, was well-stocked with reasonably-priced fruits and vegetables. The vendors, Mennonites judging by their clothes, were helpful and pleasant. A real find. Doesn’t that experience beat those awful rest stops on the highway? Is it any wonder that I overbought?
Anyway, I don’t like to waste food and the whole watermelon that I bought was more than we could eat in slices, fruit salads, and such. With a couple of tomatoes on hand and a few other ingredients, I searched out watermelon gazpacho possibilities on Eat Your Books. (If you don’t know that site, check it out. You can search for recipes in your own cookbooks and favorite foodblogs/sites without having to check individual indices. Eat Your Books is an amazing tool, especially if you have a lot of cookbooks.)
My Eat Your Books search came up with only handful of watermelon gazpacho recipes. I was surprised – thought there would be more. Oh well, I felt confident that I’d find enough inspiration within those few.
I started with the one from Yotam Ottolenghi. But upon review, I found it too complicated for my weeknight dinner plan. Then, I came upon the Bon Appetit version, Watermelon Gazpacho with Feta Crema. I had most of the ingredients, but not all. So I adapted it and came up with a version that is even quicker than the original and quite delicious. Finally, my version about doubles what the Bon Appetit recipe makes. It keeps well, refrigerated in a closed container so don’t hesitate to make the larger amount.
Watermelon Gazpacho with Feta Crema
An easy and delicious chilled soup. Perfect for a starter on a summer evening, or as the main course of a light lunch.
- 2 pounds watermelon, cut from rind, roughly chopped. About 6 cups
- 1-2 ripe tomatoes, about 1 & 1/4- 1 & 1/2 pounds, roughly chopped
- 1 large cucumber, peeled seeded, and roughly chopped
- 8 ounces tomato juice
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup sherry vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
- 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 4 ounces feta cheese, preferably sheep's milk. About 1 cup chopped
- 1/3 cup sour cream
- 1/3 cup "regular" yogurt or Greek-style thinned with 1-2 teaspoon milk
- 3 cups diced vegetables - bell pepper, cucumber, daikon radish, or similar
Add all of the gazpacho ingredients to a blender and puree. (If necessary to keep the ingredients from overflowing, do the pureeing in batches.) Transfer the gazpacho to a glass (or other non-reactive material) bowl and refrigerate for at least 1-2 hours.
Roughly mash the feta. Then add the sour cream and yogurt and mix well. Refrigerate until serving the gazpacho.
Pour gazpacho into bowls. Taste and add extra salt, pepper, and/or hot sauce if necessary. Add a dollop of feta crema and then a large spoonful of the topping vegetables.
Although I've specified sherry vinegar, which I find to be the right combination of tart and sweet for this soup, you can substitute red wine vinegar.
The choice of which vegetables to use as toppings is entirely up to you. I like the bite of Daikon radish. Also, its crispness and white color are a nice contrast to the smooth pinkish/red soup.