On a hot, hot August day, do your thoughts turn to…soup? No, didn’t think so though, if you looked in branches of the various lunch chains, where hot soup is usually the only one on offer, you would imagine that it’s very much in demand. But soup doesn’t have to be hot. In fact, chilled soup (a much better description than ‘cold’, I think, since the latter sounds accidental) is a lovely thing, and perfectly suited to proper hot weather. And, in the context of having a set of recipes for every season, I think everyone should have a chilled soup recipe, for the days when salad seems too dull, when you want something to serve as a starter or for the days when a cool liquid is all you can face. It is, in my view, the ideal antidote to a hot commute: fast to prepare, immensely healthy and gloriously refreshing.
The Spanish are, for obvious reasons, the masters of such soups. If you’ve never had a good one, try a classic gazpacho like this, or pea and mint or, if you want something slightly heavier, a Cordobés salmorejo takes a little more work (well, more chopping) but is equally worth your time. My most recent discovery comes from Eivissa: The Ibiza Cookbook, a book that is filled with hot-weather delights, from salads, to squid to sangria. Watermelon is a fruit that I love in drinks and with feta but, until now, I had never seen its potential for a chilled soup. But it works brilliantly: cheap, easy to reduce to a liquid (if you don’t have a blender, use a sieve, which has the added advantage of removing the seeds for you at the same time) and a great foil for other flavours. Oh, and beautiful to look at too. I have made it so often that the recipe page is already crunchy with use, and I only got the book about ten days ago. You may not be on an island beach today, but this will help you feel like you are.
Enough for 2-3
Cupboard (or things you may already have)
small onion, ¼
olive oil, about 2 tbsp
sea salt and black pepper
red pepper, ¼
fresh red chilli
watermelon, about 800g
small red onion, ¼
feta cheese, about 50g
fresh mint leaves, about 10
1. Peel and chop the small onion and cucumber; chop the tomato, red pepper and chilli (feel free to deseed and peel as you see fit; I don’t bother peeling the tomato or deseeding the chilli for example, but the recipe does). Deseed and chop the watermelon flesh. Juice and zest the lime.
2. Put the chopped onion, half the cucumber and tomato and all the red pepper and chilli into a blender. Add two-thirds of the watermelon, half the lime juice and zest and the olive oil then blend until smooth. Taste and add more lime juice and/or chilli, and some salt and pepper to season. Chill until you want to eat (and chill the remaining chopped vegetables too).
3. When ready to serve, thinly slice the red onion, chop or crumble the feta and thinly slice the mint leaves into ribbons (or, if very small, you can leave them whole). Divide the remaining cucumber, tomato and watermelon into bowls, add the red onion then spoon over the chilled gazpacho. Crumble the feta over the top, decorate with the mint leaves and any remaining lime zest and serve.