Wednesday, July 23, 2008

27. Watermelon Gazpacho (p. 89)

Recipes like this are what The Project is all about. This is the type of recipe that I might come across while flipping through a cookbook and say, "Watermelon Gazpacho?" and keep on flipping. But, since one of the goals of The Project is "to learn new things and try new foods," I gave this recipe a little more consideration. And since another one of the goals of The Project is to cook every recipe in The Book, I have to make this sometime, and with watermelons in season and cheap (44 cents a pound!) there's no time like the present.

The Book's blurb about this soup suggests that if you served it to your guests without telling them what it is, they'd never be able to guess. I didn't test this theory (My wife knew exactly what I was making, and nevertheless gamely gave it a try. Thanks, for being a good sport, Sweetie.) but I'm sure that it would work. The soup looks a lot like tomato bisque, and vaguely tastes like it, too. With the exception of the diced watermelon garnish, there's nothing fruity or sweet about this soup.

This recipe is not at all difficult, but it isn't quick either, and your blender gets quite a workout. First, you cut the flesh of a four-pound watermelon into chunks. Then you puree the chunks in the blender (reserving a cup of the flesh for the garnish) and strain the juice. The remaining ingredients (a pretty eclectic and unusual collection including whole almonds, white sandwich bread, garlic, ice cubes, and oil) are all blended with the juice to make the soup. There was way too much liquid for my blender to handle all at once, so I had to do this in batches.

The word to describe this soup is "interesting." (What a great word! Do I mean "interesting good" or "interesting bad"? The truth is that I'm not really sure, which means that this soup really and truly is "interesting.") With the exception of the garlic (more on that in a second), all of the flavors of the components of this soup disappear and meld into a completely new savory flavor that you can't quite place. There is no perceptible watermelon or almond flavor at all. The dominant flavor in this soup was garlic, which is unfortunate, but I find that's usually the case with recipes that call for raw garlic. Even when I use less garlic than called for (I used two cloves here rather than the three that The Book uses), the raw garlic simply overtakes a dish like a bully in a schoolyard. The texture of the soup is nice. It's thick and creamy (even though there's no cream). The ground almonds, however, make the soup, which is otherwise silky and smooth, a little bit grainy. The sweet and crisp diced watermelon garnish was a nice contrast in texture and flavor.

I think that this soup is meant to be eaten all at once. I had some leftover soup for lunch a couple of days later and the garlic flavor had intensified to the point of leaving a burning sensation on my tongue. (Don't get me wrong, I love garlic, but this was just too much). And even though I stirred it well before eating, the bread and almond particles had fallen irretrievably out of the suspension and there was an odd and unappetizing sludge at the bottom of the bowl.

I'm glad that I made this soup, and I enjoyed eating it, but I won't be making it again.

Date Cooked: July 20, 2008
Degree of Difficulty: Medium
Rating: C

1 comment:

Melissa Bach Palladino said...

I've made this soup at least five times now and I'm seriously in love with it. But the second time I made it, I remembered how overpowering the damn garlic was and I only make it with one clove. At this point I feel free to make notes to myself in the margin. :-)