Watermelon & Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho with Lump Crab

I'm clearly hanging onto the last days of summer for dear life ... and this refreshing soup is proof. Several weeks back I had the opportunity to visit Driftwood Southern Kitchen in Raleigh, NC thanks to a tip from my fellow food-blogger Stacey of Cook Eat Life. You can read about Driftwood as well as find Stacey and her food blog by clicking riiiiiiiiiiight here. I was exhausted from travel but famished - I wanted something with a ton of flavor but that wouldn't make me want to crawl under the table immediately following for a nap.

I settled on a refreshing watermelon/tomato gazpacho which obviously featured fresh ingredients and local NC lump crab. It was wonderful and I knew I'd need to make it as soon as I got back home. I researched all my favorite food blogs and food magazines but found a recipe I felt came closest to the flavors I experienced at Driftwood on Food52. Food52 is a glorious website that is "helping people become better, smarter, happier cooks". A gold-mind of recipes for the home cook as well as a fantastic source for great products, this cooking community has become an oft-visited home for me.

I found several gazpacho recipes but only a few which included watermelon. I finally settled on a recipe from Maria Teresa Jorge which I've tweaked just a hitch in favor of the additional ingredients I experienced at Driftwood.

Do not let the watermelon freak you out. You're using slightly more tomatoes than you are watermelon, so the soup will be mostly savory (especially if you use fresh herbs like I did). I found that the addition of sweet watermelon simply mellows out the acidity of the tomatoes. I like my soup to have a little "tooth" to it, so I blended all the ingredients in a food processor, but you can also strain the blended soup through a fine-mesh strainer or cheesecloth if you like mostly liquid and very little "pulp" or fiber.

We are able to get fresh jumbo lump crab at my little local Safeway, but by all means, if you leave anywhere coastal, throw down for the freshest crab you can find. Are you beginning to feel it? Smooth tomato gazpacho lightly sweetened with juicy summertime watermelon and sweet lump crab? I think we're all on the same page here. I sprinkled a bit of radish sprouts (spicy!) and fresh oregano (herby!) and, well, it's just got to the be best bowl of soup I've had since last fall.

I just hope I've done Driftwood proud (remember the fried chicken I raved about there? It's the next recipe coming to the blog!) This soup is easy to make, it's beautiful to look at, and you'll impress your friends with your ultra uber-coolness by serving it at your next lunch or brunch.

Watermelon & Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho with Lump Crab

Adapted from Maria Teresa Jorge on Food52.com / Inspired by Driftwood Southern Kitchen

Serves 4 as a meal (bowl) / 8 as an appetizer (cup)

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 pounds heirloom or red vine tomatoes - ripe
  • 1 1/4 pounds watermelon (rind removed)
  • 1 ounce sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 ounces red pepper, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons White Wine Vinegar (start with 2 tablespoons, then taste)
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 pound jumbo lump crab meat (as fresh as you can get it!)

Firstly, make sure you wash and clean all your fresh veg. Rule #1. Cut your tomatoes (you can leave the skins on for "roughage" or remove then, your call) roughly and toss them into the food processor. Cut the watermelon into chunks - if you go with a seedless watermelon, don't worry about removing the soft, white seeds, they'll blend up fine and add to the texture of the soup.  This is totally your call, though. Toss the watermelon into the processor. Cut the onion and red pepper into large chunks, enough to measure one ounce each, and toss into the food processor. Follow that with the garlic clove and process all together until smooth. Add a bit of salt, the olive oil and vinegar and process again. Taste and if needed, add more vinegar and/or salt.

Here's where you can strain the mixture through a fine sieve, pressing with a rubber spatula, if you want a smoother soup. It will make the soup thinner because you're losing some of the fiber. Once the soup is to your desired consistency, refrigerate for a minimum of two hours so the soup gets really cold.

Before serving, mix or whisk the soup again as some of the water in the soup will have separated from the fiber. Serve in cold bowls with lump crab meat and fresh herbs, if desired.