This watermelon gazpacho recipe is a refreshing spin on Spain's classic chilled tomato soup. It's vegan, gluten free, and exactly what you need to cool down this summer.
This watermelon gazpacho celebrates Spain's plethora of amazing fruits and vegetables, all of which can be found in abundance in the US. It blends sweet, juicy watermelon with ripe tomatoes, cucumbers, and bell peppers. It’s sweet and savory, a little spicy, and incredibly refreshing.
Madrid, Europe’s sunniest capital, typically has 350 days of sunshine. The bright Spanish sun is a double-edged sword, though. Excellent conditions for growing incredible fruits and vegetables also bring oppressive heat during the long summers. In fact, the siesta was historically an essential afternoon break for farmers during the sun's peak.
In addition to the siesta, Spain has another well-known respite from the sun: cold soups like gazpacho and salmorejo. Classic gazpacho uses tomatoes as its base, along with other vegetables such as cucumber and bell peppers. But Spain produces more than tomatoes; It's also famous for its beautiful fruits like strawberries, cherries, and melons.
Watermelon gazpacho is sure to keep you cool–whether the dinner party you planned just happens to be on the hottest day of the year or you can't fathom cooking for the family in the heat. Plus, it only needs a quick blend so you can get back to enjoying the sun, or your siesta.
Table of Contents
Watermelon Gazpacho Ingredients
Watermelon gazpacho is a refreshing, no-cook soup to cool down at the height of summer. Naturally, it's full of fresh fruits and vegetables at their peak. This time of year, these staples may already be on your shopping list—I know they’re on mine.
- Watermelon: Pick a sweet, ripe watermelon. Use seedless, or remove the seeds before adding the diced watermelon to the blender.
- Tomatoes: I call for plum tomatoes, which are always a safe bet. You may also use an heirloom variety, beefsteak tomatoes, or a mix of varieties, as long as they’re fresh and very ripe.
- English cucumber: English cucumbers are sweeter than regular slicing cucumbers. They have thinner skin and smaller seeds. You don't have to peel them and they blend well. If they’re not available, peel a standard slicing cucumber.
- Garlic: Because the garlic is raw, it can be a bit sharp. For this reason, I only call for one clove. Sometimes I toss an extra clove into the blender because, for me, there's no such thing as too much garlic.
- Red bell pepper: Red peppers are the sweetest bell peppers because they are picked when they’re fully ripe.
- Green bell pepper: Green bell peppers are more bitter and vegetal than red, orange, and yellow peppers. I like having this small amount of bitterness to balance the sweetness of the watermelon and tomatoes. If you prefer a sweeter gazpacho, substitute it for another red bell pepper.
- Sherry vinegar: Sherry vinegar is a caramelly, mildly acidic vinegar from the region of Cádiz in southern Spain. It’s the default vinegar in Spain, but if it’s difficult to find where you are, rice vinegar has a similar acidity level.
- Extra virgin olive oil: Extra virgin olive oil retains the most flavor from the olives. Not only is the Hojiblanca varietal from the same region, but the fruity, peppery aroma works wonderfully with the flavors in this watermelon gazpacho.
- Fine sea salt: Salt is an essential flavor enhancer. I prefer using fine sea salt for this blended recipe because it dissolves easily.
- Smoked Spanish hot paprika: Spain is famous for its pimentón de la Vera. Smoked hot paprika is oak wood smoked and spicy. A small amount packs a flavorful punch. For a milder version, substitute with sweet paprika.
- Black pepper: Black pepper adds a little more heat and brings out the other flavors in the soup.
- Fresh mint or basil: Refreshing mint or spicy and grassy basil give the garnish a summery brightness.
How to Make this Watermelon Gazpacho Recipe
When it’s too hot, there is no way I am going to stand over my stove or turn on the oven. The less time I spend cooking, the more time I have to enjoy the sun or keep cool by a fan. Luckily, watermelon gazpacho is as easy as making a smoothie: Just chop, blend, and chill.
- Blend: Add the watermelon, tomatoes, cucumber, garlic, red pepper, green pepper, vinegar, olive oil, salt, paprika, and black pepper to a blender. Puree on high speed until very smooth, about 2 minutes.
- Chill: Transfer the gazpacho to a large bowl or pitcher. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour, preferably overnight.
- Garnish: To make the garnish, toss together the watermelon, cucumber, green pepper, red onion, and herbs in a small bowl.
- Serve: Divide the soup among the 4 bowls. Top the soup with a small handful of the garnish. Drizzle with some extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle with a grind of black pepper.
How To Spot The Perfect Watermelon
This watermelon gazpacho recipe is infinitely better with a super ripe, sweet, and juicy watermelon. But, if you don’t know what clues to look for, it can be hard to judge whether a watermelon is perfectly ripe before slicing, let alone before you've left the store. Here are 4 quick tips, or check out our How to Pick a Watermelon for a deeper dive:
- Appearance: The best indicator for a ripe watermelon is the color of the field spot. The field spot is a large white or yellow patch on the skin where the watermelon sat in the field. A white field spot indicates that the watermelon is likely underripe, whereas a deep yellow field spot indicates a sweet, ripe watermelon.
- Shape: Choose a watermelon that has a uniform shape. If it is lumpy or oddly shaped, it likely received inconsistent watering and sunlight that will adversely affect its flavor.
- Sound: Give the watermelon a gentle knock or tap. It should sound hollow, and there shouldn't be any give on the surface. If it sounds dense or dull, it is likely under or over-ripe.
- Weight: Choose a watermelon that is heavy for its size. Lift a few watermelons and keep the heaviest watermelon in relation to its size. Your workout will be rewarded with a juicier watermelon.
Swaps and Substitutions
This watermelon gazpacho recipe is so simple you can easily make changes to suit your taste and pantry. Here are a few ways to change things up:
- Swap the fruit: Use the same weight of fresh strawberries or pitted cherries in place of the watermelon.
- Make it smoky: If you don’t mind firing up the grill, grill the watermelon before making the gazpacho. The char caramelizes the watermelon and adds some sweet smokiness.
- Upgrade the garnish: While not traditional, zesty shrimp ceviche takes this soup over the top. Swap the garnish recipe below with a generous spoonful of shrimp ceviche.
What to Serve with Watermelon Gazpacho
I find that nothing pairs quite as well with a cold Spanish soup as a cold Spanish drink. While the soup is chilling, why not make a pitcher of white sangria to go with it?
Sticking with the no-cook theme, I'd make this watermelon gazpacho recipe with a classic Niçoise salad and some crusty bread for a summery lunch or light dinner.
If you’ve made plans for a dinner party, add some grilled corn and fried calamari and serve it all tapas style. For dessert, keep things just as refreshing and easy with a fruit salad or some frozen yogurt.
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For the Soup
- 1 pound watermelon, roughly cut into chunks
- 1 pound plum tomatoes, roughly cut into chunks
- ½ English cucumber, roughly cut into chunks
- 1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and roughly cut into chunks
- ½ green bell pepper, cored, seeded, and roughly cut into chunks
- 3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon smoked Spanish hot paprika
- ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the Garnish
- ½ cup diced watermelon
- ¼ English cucumber, diced
- ½ green pepper, cored, seeded, and diced
- ½ small red onion, diced
- 1 tablespoon minced mint or basil leaves
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Blend the soup. Add the chopped watermelon, tomatoes, cucumber, garlic, red pepper, green pepper, vinegar, olive oil, salt, paprika, and black pepper to a blender. Puree on high speed until very smooth, about 2 minutes. Depending on your blender’s capacity, you may need to work in batches.
- Chill the soup. Transfer the gazpacho to a large bowl or pitcher. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour, preferably overnight. With a longer rest, the flavors intensify.
- Just before serving: make the garnish. In a small bowl, toss together the diced watermelon, cucumber, green pepper, red onion, and herbs in a small bowl.
- Serve. Divide the soup among the 4 bowls. Top the soup with a small handful of the garnish. Drizzle with some extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle with a grind of black pepper.
- A ripe, juicy watermelon is essential for the best flavor. Check out our How to Pick a Watermelon guide for all of our watermelon shopping tips.
- Watermelon isn’t the only summer fruit that works for this gazpacho recipe. Try swapping the same weight of fresh strawberries or pitted cherries in place of the watermelon.
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