Fresh Watermelon Gazpacho
Bright, fresh, and borderline addictive on hot days, gazpacho is an endlessly adaptable dish that simply embodies summer. It’s quick to make, requires no cooking, and is served cold when you’re most in need of refreshment.
This twist on the classic tomato-based gazpacho features watermelon as the star ingredient, with a smaller amount of tomatoes for taste and texture. While it might sound sweet, garlic, salt and lime juice give the soup a savory backbone and balance the sweetness of the watermelon. After having some deliciously smoky grilled watermelon slices at the Washington Square Tavern on my birthday, I was inspired to add a slightly smoky element to this gazpacho. It’s optional, so leave it out if you’re not into smoky or spicy flavors – but if you’re looking for a little adventure, I highly recommend adding either the chipotle in adobo sauce or chipotle chili powder. If you like “spicy” but aren’t a fan of smoky, you can add a chopped jalapeño to the blender along with the garlic.
As for the consistency, I like my gazpacho with intentional chunks, not a partially pureed jumble of random chunks. To that end, I puree the base until it’s completely smooth and reserve some of the chopped watermelon and cucumber to add to the finished soup. This way, you get a consistently smooth base, a good amount of bite-sized chunks, and a pleasant textural experience overall.
Since this soup is completely comprised of fresh fruit and veggies, it’s extremely light. To make it a heartier meal, top it with diced avocado and/or crumbled feta cheese (I used both!). If you want to get fancy, you can also add a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. Serve this gazpacho on the hottest of summer days, as a starter or as a main course, and you’re guaranteed some instant refreshment.
Serves 4 to 6
Note: If you’re planning to serve the soup immediately, start with all chilled ingredients. Otherwise, refrigerate puree and garnishes separately for an hour before serving. I like to peel the cucumber for this soup because the skins can turn bitter in the puree, but if you want the added color in your finished dish, don’t peel the portion you cut for garnish.
1 small (5-pound) seedless watermelon, rind removed
2 vine-ripe tomatoes, cored and chopped
1 English cucumber, peeled and chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice, plus extra to taste
2 small garlic cloves
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon minced canned chipotle in adobo sauce or 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili powder (optional)
1 ripe avocado, diced (optional)
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (optional)
1/4 cup shredded fresh basil leaves
1. Chop 3/4 of the watermelon into large chunks to go in your blender. Cut remaining 1/4 of watermelon into 1/2-inch dice for garnish (you should have about 2 cups). Combined diced watermelon with half of diced cucumber (the unpeeled portion, if you like) and set aside.
2. Place tomato, half of the cucumber, onion, garlic, lime juice, salt, and half of the large watermelon chunks into your blender. Pulse until mixture is smooth, about 6 pulses. Add remaining large watermelon chunks, and chipotle, if using. Pulse until mixture is smooth again, about 6 more pulses. Taste for seasoning and add salt and lime juice as desired. (If you didn’t start with chilled ingredients, chill soup base and garnishes separately for 1 hour before serving.)
3. Transfer puree to serving bowls and divide diced watermelon/cucumber mixture evenly among bowls. Top with avocado and/or feta, if using, and add the shredded basil on top. Serve immediately.