Max and Eli Sussman's Watermelon Gazpacho

Watermelon Gazpacho [Photograph: Alex Farnum]

While many tomato gazpachos could easily be mistaken for watery salsa, this watermelon version from This is a Cookbook is anything but. Max and Eli Sussman blend together freshly strained watermelon juice with a rich, thickening mixture of almonds, bread, onion, bell peppers, and olive oil to create a vibrantly red, totally slurp-able, tail end of summer appetizer. It's a little on the sweet side, sure, but that's easily fixable with a drizzle of hot sauce and squirt of lemon.

Why I picked this recipe: A refreshing chilled soup seemed the best way to bid adieu to summertime.

What worked: Technique-wise the recipe worked well, and the combination of bread, almonds, and fruit lend a full-bodied texture to a soup that is often thin and boring.

What didn't: The recipe calls for "one watermelon" but does not specify size. I bought a medium-sized melon and had tons of extra fruit. If you're not looking for leftovers, buy the smallest melon you can find. I also found the soup too sweet on its own; a little lemon juice and hot sauce added needed balance.

Suggested Tweaks: This gazpacho could be made with any number of melons (or a combination). A hot fresh chile would be nice in there as well. Finally, since you're straining out the juice anyway, you could absolutely make this with a more-flavorful seeded watermelon (if you can find one at your farmer's market).

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of This is a Cookbook to give away.

About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer out of Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American and blogs at cookingwolves.wordpress.com.

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Max and Eli Sussman's Watermelon Gazpacho

About This Recipe

Yield:serves 4
Active time:45 minutes
Total time:2 hours
This recipe appears in: Max and Eli Sussman's Watermelon Gazpacho

Ingredients

  • 1 seedless watermelon, cubed
  • 1/2 red onion, cut into big chunks
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into big chunks
  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 5 thick slices sourdough bread
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • Salt

Procedures

  1. 1

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

  2. 2

    In a food processor, process the watermelon to a smooth puree. Strain the juice through a medium-mesh sieve into a large bowl; you should have about 4 cups. Add the onion and bell pepper to the food processor (no need to clean it first) and process to a smooth puree. Add to the bowl with the watermelon juice and place in the fridge. Reserve the food processor (again, no need to clean it).

  3. 3

    Spread the almonds on a baking sheet. Brush 1 slice of the bread with olive oil and put it on the pan alongside the nuts. Bake until the bread is lightly golden and the nuts are fragrant and golden, about 10 minutes. Shake the tray a few times during toasting so the almonds don't scorch, and turn the bread once halfway through. Set aside to cool. Cut the bread into 1/4-inch cubes and set aside for garnish.

  4. 4

    Cut the crusts off the remaining 4 bread slices. Break the bread into large pieces, add to the food processor, and process to crumbs. Remove the watermelon mixture from the fridge and add the bread crumbs. Put the toasted almonds in the food processor and pulse to finely chop. Work carefully, as you don't want the nuts to turn to paste. Add to the watermelon mixture. Add the 1/2 cup olive oil and salt to taste and stir to mix well. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Ladle into soup bowls, garnish with the reserved bread cubes, and serve.

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