Introduction: Watermelon Gazpacho
First Prize in the
Ferrous Chef: Watermelon
Gazpacho is one of my favorite summer soups. It is fresh and nutritious and full of great vitamins since it is uncooked; perfect cold soup for a hot summer afternoon or evening. A favorite variation on this ancient cold soup originating from the Andalusian region of Spain, involves adding watermelon and chervil to the tomato base. This addition cuts the acidity of the tomato base and gives it a fantastic sweetness to complement the tomatoes.
Step 1: Ingredients
There are many stories about the origin of gazpacho. Some historians report that the first cold soups were designed by the early Romans and Greeks who carried vinegar, garlic and bread to add to any fruits or vegetables they encountered. With the introduction of tomatoes and cucumbers to Spain brought back to Europe in the 1400's by Columbus, the base of the soup changed to the tomato/cucumber base that gazpacho is known for today.
For your soup you will need:
2 large tomatoes, or 4-5 smaller fruits (I use a combination of heirlooms from my garden)
pureed1/4 jalapeño chile
1 yellow pepper
2 cups cubed fresh watermelon
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons minced red onion
3 Persian cucumbers (no need to seed!)
2 tablespoons minced fresh chervil, plus more for garnish
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
Just like the Romans and Andalusians, there are many variations of this dish and you can add fresh ingredients according to what is in season. I based this particular recipe on this one from Food Network.
Step 2: Chervil
Chervil (pronounced "SHER-vil") is an important herb used in European cooking. It is considered one of the five essential herbs for any French herb gardener and cook (along with Ciboulette, Chives; Estragon, Tarragon, Persil, Parsley and Thym, Thyme.) While chervil is a member of the parsley family, it has a distinctively different taste similar to anise or licorice. It is very light and somewhat sweeter than other parsleys. In the image above you can see the size difference in the leaves. Its leaves resemble the delicate carrot leaves. It is delicate and considerably smaller in size than other parsleys. While many gazpachos call for parsley and/or other herbs including dill, the watermelon/chervil combination compliment one another in making a sweeter summer soup.
Step 3: Chop Your Ingredients
After you wash your ingredients (be sure to scrub the outside of the watermelon so germs from the skin are not dragged through the flesh - remember this soup is raw) and you are ready to chop. I like my gazpacho chunky, so I am particular that the veggies are small and bite-sized.
Step 4: Making the Soup Base
Next, add your tomatoes, some of the watermelon, salt, pepper, red wine vinegar, olive oil, jalapeno and chervil in the blender. I am sensitive to spicy foods so I only add a sliver of jalapeno, but you can decide how hot you would like your soup. Be sure to save your small chopped ingredients to add later if you like your soup the way I do. Ziiizzzzz it up!
Step 5: The Last Part...Texture
Now is the time to add the crunchy veggies and some of the small bits of watermelon to soup base. This gives the gazpacho texture, great crunch and a bright contrast as well!
Step 6: Garnishing Before Serving
Chill the soup for at least 4-5 hours (best if overnight).
Now add the feta and chervil just before serving and you will have a delightful late summer (or hot San Francisco fall) luncheon or evening meal!
Step 7: Eat With "Relish!"
Serve the watermelon gazpacho chilled. Other herb options instead of the chervil can include dill or parsley - but the chervil version is sweeter and special!
Enjoy this modern day version of an ancient recipe on a warm evening and imagine that you are visiting Spain, Portugal, Greece, Rome ...or if you are in Europe... San Francisco near where I live!!!
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