This has turned out to be a watermelon kind of a summer. Daunted by the sheer size, and lacking the determination needed to get through a whole one (which is how they’re sold around here) when there are usually only two of us in the house, I tend to walk straight past the piles of them in the supermarket.
But house guests bought one earlier in the summer and suddenly I realised what we’d been missing. Now I’m hooked. Cool slices straight from the fridge. A sorbet made of nothing but pulverized and de-seeded fruit. Or this savoury-sweet cold soup. However you use it, it’s supremely refreshing.
Watermelon – about 2kg
Cucumber – 1 medium (about 500g)
Onion – 1 medium
Garlic – 1 large clove
Vinegar – 2 tbsp
Mint – 1 large sprig
Chilli – to taste
Almonds – a handful to garnish
Peel the onion and chop it roughly. Peel the cucumber, remove the seeds and chop it up. Put these two ingredients plus the peeled and chopped garlic, the minced chili and the vinegar (I use very good red wine vinegar: the better the vinegar, the better your soup will be) into the blender and whizz them until the mix is a completely smooth liquid. Pour it into a large jug or other container that can go in the fridge.
Now chop up the watermelon, setting aside a centimetre or two of the less sweet fruit closest to the rind. You’ll need this later. You can painstakingly remove every single seed. Or you can scrape out the ones that come easily and put everything else into the blender. It will take no time at all to turn the fruit into a liquid mess. Don’t blitz it for too long or else you’ll pulverize the seeds too.
Remove the seeds by pushing this slush through a sieve into the container with the cucumber and onion mix. Mince the mint leaves as finely as you can, and tip them in too, then stir the lot together.
Dice the remaining watermelon – the part near the rind – into tiny cubes (half a centimetre or so) and add them to the soup. Though salt rarely gets a look-in in my cooking, I admit to adding half a teaspoon here, to cut the remaining sweetness a little. You might think it needs considerably more.
Now put the soup into the fridge for a couple of hours, for the flavours to blend and the ingredients to chill thoroughly. To serve, dry-roast some chopped almonds in a frying pan until they’re crunchy then leave them to cool. Sprinkle a few on top of each soup bowl, perhaps with a little chopped mint.