Cold soup is a treasure of Summer weather. Some countries (eg India and the Middle East) have a whole cuisine of cold drinks that are sipped in the extreme weather of the hottest periods of the year, and countries such as Spain have a cuisine of cold soups to slurp in similar weather. Here, we have neither although our weather in Summer equals or exceeds that of those countries. It is a puzzle why that is.
Never fear, here in our little patch of Australia, both cold soups and cold drinks prevail in hot weather. From the simplest (juice tomatoes with a tiny piece of chill, serve as a soup with basil, spring onions, black pepper, sea salt) to beautiful but out of fashion vichyssoise varieties.
Today we make a Gazpacho style soup with watermelon as well as tomato. It is delicious on a hot Summer evening, eating on the deck or verandah with friends and family. Serve as a soup, or even as a savoury drink, like you might serve a tomato juice – leave the bread out if you are going to serve it this way. Sipped or slurped, it is wonderful.
This is an Ottolenghi recipe, from Plenty More, although I have added some cucumber back into the recipe. I love its juice and can’t imagine a gazpacho without it. It makes a difference. Sometimes, I have also added the juice of zucchinis (surprisingly delicious and cooling) in the past too, because I had a glut of them, and it is delicious. It is such a light and delicious soup, and easy to make – you will want to make it all Summer.
In fact, it is Ottolenghi day on the blog – one of two days per month where we publish all the latest posts of recipes we have tried in our project of cooking from Ottolenghi books – currently we are cooking from Plenty More, but not ignoring his other books completely. Note that I often massage the recipes to suit what is available from our garden and pantry. For the original recipes, check his books and his Guardian column.
Browse all of our Cold Soups and all of our Tomato Soups. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through this book. Or explore our Mid Summer dishes.
Tomato and Watermelon Gazpacho
2kg ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
5 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
6 celery stalks, pale parts and leaves, all roughly chopped
1 small onion, roughly chopped
400g watermelon flesh, seeds removed
2 Lebanese cucumbers
100g white bread, crusts removed broken into small chunks
150ml tomato passata (or use tomatoes whizzed into a puree, or tomato juice)
2 Tblspn red wine vinegar
200ml olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
15g basil leaves
sea salt and black pepper
150g white bread, crusts removed, broken into 2-3cm chunks
3 tbsp olive oil
1½ tbsp red wine vinegar
First make the croutons (optional). Preheat the oven to 180C. Place the bread in a medium bowl along with the oil, vinegar and 1 teaspoon of salt. Place a griddle pan on a high heat, add the croutons and cook for 2 minutes, turning until all sides are slightly charred and starting to crispen. Transfer from the pan onto a baking tray and place in the oven for about 12 minutes, until golden brown and crispy. Set aside to cool.
For the soup, place the tomatoes, garlic, celery, onion, cucumber, watermelon, bread, passata and 10 grams of basil in a blender or large bowl along with 1½ teaspoon of salt and a good grind of black pepper. Blend until smooth and then, with the blender still going, add the vinegar and olive oil. Refrigerate until needed.
To serve, pour the soup into individual bowls and top with the croutons. Tear the remaining basil and sprinkle it on top of each portion, along with a final drizzle of oil. Finish with a little sea salt and serve at once.
recipe notes and alternatives
Leave the bread out for a thinner soup.
Add some zucchini juice to the soup as you blend it.
Rather than croutons, add slivers of watermelon as a garnish.
A little bit of green chilli added as it blends spices things up nicely.