Chilled Watermelon Soup with Roasted Apricots and Tomatoes

A shallow white soup bowl full of watermelon gazpacho with roasted apricots, tomatoes, and red onions on a red, white, blue floral background. Small fresh basil clusters are arranged on the gazpacho and background.

Soup is best served cold on a hot day and this gazpacho-inspired recipe is a fine example of chilled summer soup at its best. Make this soup when local produce is readily available, this is the time to let seasonal fruits and vegetables shine. Roasting apricots, tomatoes, red onions, and a jalapeño  pepper or two gives the soup depth of flavour and a solid base for the raw ingredients. It’s absolutely crucial that this soup is chilled for at least 12 hours in order for it to taste spectacular, 24 hours is even better if you have the time. Use a fruitier extra virgin olive oil if possible, the biting peppery taste of the oil you use to cook with isn’t complementary to the lovely sweetness of the soup. I’ve also used avocado with success, it gives the finished product a delicious buttery quality. I love using sherry vinegar in this recipe as a nod to traditional gazpacho and I’ve added some additional lime juice to really underscore the sweetness of the watermelon. I like to serve this chilled watermelon soup with something tangy and rich such as creme fraiche or high-fat yogurt, finely diced avocado also works well. Pack this soup into jars for an easy picnic addition or any on-the-go meal, it’s also incredibly refreshing after any outdoor activity when temperatures are in full mid-August mode.

chilled watermelon soup with roasted apricots and tomatoes:

(makes enough for several meals and will keep for up to 5 days in the refrigerator)

4-5 cups of watermelon, cubed with seeds removed

6 medium-sized tomatoes, cut into quarters

6 fresh apricots, cut in half with puts removed

1 medium-sized red onion, cut into quarters

1-2 jalapeño peppers, cut in half with seeds removed

Olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

1 medium-sized cucumber, cut into a fine dice with seeds and peel removed

1 sweet pepper, cut into a fine dice

A generous handful of fresh basil, cut into a fine chiffonade

4 Tbsp. sherry vinegar

Juice of 1 lime

1/3 cup fruity olive or avocado oil

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Put the watermelon in a food processor and pulse until completely blitzed. Set aside.
  3. Arrange the tomatoes, apricots, onion, and jalapeño pepper(s) on a parchment or foil-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with the salt and pepper. Bake for 30-45 minutes or until everything begins to brown, stirring occasionally.
  4. Scrape the roasted fruits and vegetables into the food processor with their juices. Pulse a couple of times being careful not to process until smooth, the goal is a chunky salsa-like texture.
  5. In a very large jug or bowl stir together the watermelon, roasted and chopped vegetables, sherry vinegar, olive oil, and fresh basil. Season generously with salt and paper.
  6. Cover the soup and refrigerate for 12-24 hours before serving chilled with your preferred finishing touch.

IMG_2824

Greg Gonzalez of Cigarettes After Sex has the gentlest of  singing voices, the most obvious comparison would be Hope Sandoval when she’s singing with the Warm Inventions but I also hear echoes of Low when they’re at their most sparse. This dreamy EP is just gorgeous, it’s also an album that gives me a definite feeling of time and place. It makes me think of reading in bed, sunlight filtering through semi-closed blinds, and the distinct smell of dust and library books. CAS has a playful yet melancholic sound that fills the room because of its lo-fi simplicity not despite of.

Cigarettes After Sex – Nothing’s Gonna Hurt You Baby

Watermelon Gazpacho

Colourful teacups on a flowered tablecloth, filled with pink watermelon gazpacho.

Summer in Vancouver is shaping up to be cool and rainy; I won’t lie, I love this cooler weather and the rainy days. I’ll admit that I do miss eating food in the sunshine, there’s something remiss about eating local strawberries while huddled under a blanket, wearing thick wooly socks. So this Sunday, when we had a rare sunny day, I decided to make the summeriest food I could think of and gazpacho was at the top of my list. This isn’t a true gazpacho, but it comes together quickly and can be poured into a juice jug to de served at intervals over the next few days. I bring it to work for an afternoon pick-me-up that I can sip at my desk, and I have it for dinner with chickpeas, fresh herbs, diced avocado, and a swirl of creme fraiche. The watermelon makes this gazpacho taste divine and satisfies the need for a brightly healthy afternoon snack, as well as any unwanted late night hunger pangs.

Colourful teacups on a flowered tablecloth, filled with pink watermelon gazpacho.

Colourful teacups on a flowered tablecloth, filled with pink watermelon gazpacho.

watermelon gazpacho:

1 small watermelon or half of a large one, cubed into large chunks

1 English cucumber, peeled and seeded and cut into large chunks

2 ripe tomatoes, quartered

1-2 Serrano chilies, sliced into a few pieces (remove the seeds for less heat)

1 shallot, peeled and loosely chopped

2 Tbsp. olive oil

2 Tbsp. sherry vinegar

Big handfuls of cilantro, parsley, and mint

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

Add all of the ingredients to a blender and blitz until combined but with some remaining texture (work in batches if you’re dealing with a small blender). Allow to sit in the fridge overnight and up to 4 days for maximum flavour. Serve with creme fraiche or Greek yogurt and a your choice of finely chopped fresh herb for garnish.

 

Watermelon Gazpacho3

Here’s something regionally appropriate for gazpacho, and something beautiful to melt your soul into a warm puddle of nostalgic happiness. Almost a full hour of Andres Segovia, how wonderful!

Andres Segovia – The Intimate Guitar (album)

Pink and Red Smoothie

This immensely refreshing smoothie encompasses an entire gradient of pinks and reds, from lush azalea hued watermelon to deep crimson pomegranate. I always feel healthier when sipping this smoothie; I can’t be certain whether this is from the actual bounty of antioxidants found in the ingredient list or is simply a placebo effect enhanced by the knowledge that I’m consuming something chock full of vitamins. The heady combination of sweet and tart is permeated with a slight heat from the fresh ginger; I often add 3 times as much as I have specified here, begin with a modest amount and work your way upwards if you’re inclined. I usually have a pitcher of rotating fruit teas in the fridge and I have discovered that raspberry and blueberry teas are also excellent choices for this drink (a mild green tea is also lovely and pairs very well with the ginger.) I will often have at least 1 of the fruits listed below frozen, just add a handful or 2 of ice if your ingredients are coming straight from the counter or crisper.

pink and red smoothie:

1 heaping cup of watermelon, cut into chunks

1/2 cup of strawberries, hulled and cut in half

1/2 cup of raspberries

1 cup of cold cranberry herbal tea

1/4 cup of pomegranate juice

About a 1 cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into 4 pieces

1 cup of ice (optional)

1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and blitz until smooth. Pour into 2 glasses (0r 1 and save some for later) and enjoy!

More often than not I make this smoothie for myself first thing in the morning before work and such a happy beverage deserves some equally bright retro pop to accompany it. This is my favourite song by The Zombies, I love them all very much but this is my best play-it-all-the-time track (which is good, because if I listen to it in the morning I have the apartment to myself and can put it on 6 times in a row without fear of annoying other people.) The lyrics are inarguably melancholy but, as always, The Zombies have managed to set them to definitely sunny music.

The Zombies – Brief Candles

Watermelon, Feta and Mint Salad

This past weekend I saw people walking around in winter coats and toques; I live a ten minute walk from this pool and I haven’t even entertained the thought of going for a swim since it opened in May- in short, this has been one freezing cold summer so far. Maybe it’s because I lived right under the Golden Horseshoe but I haven’t even come close to buying the same amount of local produce here in Vancouver than I would be in London right now (then again, London doesn’t have that pool.) The green is so absolutely emerald against the red onions turned deep fuschia after a lime bath, the olives and salty feta tasting that much more piquant in contrast to the sublime crunch of the watermelon. A simpler way to say all that would be that this salad embodies an ideal summer – trips to the beach, swimming in a neighbourhood pool, outdoor parties, etc. Make sure that the watermelon is very cold when you serve this, the other ingredients can be at room temperature. This recipe was originally from Nigella Lawson’s Forever Summer cookbook (my favourite cook book of all time I think, as far as visual presentation and readability goes.)

watermelon, feta and mint salad:

Juice of 4 limes

1 medium red onion, sliced into thin half-moons

1 mini watermelon, cut into bite-sized pieces

1 bunch of mint, roughly chopped

1 generous cup of crumbled feta, I use cow’s milk feta but you might like goat or sheep’s milk feta

1/2 cup of black olives, left whole or sliced

3 Tbsp. light tasting olive oil

Black pepper

1. Combine the red onions and lime juice in a small bowl, allow them to marinate anywhere from 1 to 5 hours.

2. Place all of the ingredients in a large bowl or on a platter. Gently toss to combine and let sit for about 15 minutes before serving.

This is a song that I listen to when I’m cooking alone in the apartment; I think it’s perfect in a lot of ways and I like to listen to it without any interruption. A year ago I was terrified about moving, walking constantly around my neighbourhood and trying to absorb everything I could to bring with me across the country. I listened to this song a lot when I walked and when I was just alone at home thinking. So in its own way this song is a summer song for me because it left me grounded when I needed comfort and now a year later I’m listening to it in my kitchen here, really close to pretty much everything I’ve ever wanted in a summer.

Animal Collective – Banshee Beat