The much-loved, much-missed Restaurant Nora in Washington, D.C., took an early lead in using local ingredients in fresh, simply prepared food. Here Chef Nora Pouillon’s chilled watermelon gazpacho has the same red color as the traditional, tomato-based Spanish soup, but her clever riff provides a taste surprise. It’s especially refreshing on a hot summer day.
6 pounds watermelon with red flesh
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (about 1 lime)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
1 whole red chili pepper
½ cup chopped red onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup minced fresh mint, plus fresh mint for garnish
1 zucchini, seeded and cut into ¼-inch dice
1 green or yellow pepper, seeded and cut into ¼-inch dice
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cut the watermelon into wedges, cut off the rind, and remove the seeds. In batches, put the watermelon pieces into a blender and puree until smooth.
Over a large container, pour the watermelon puree through a colander or sieve to remove any remaining seeds. Pour half the puree into a large bowl and the other half back into the blender. Add to the blender the lime and lemon juice, chili, onion, and garlic. Puree until smooth.
Pour this seasoned puree into the large bowl with the reserved puree. Stir in the mint, zucchini, and the green or yellow pepper. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Refrigerate.
Divide the soup among 4 bowls (it looks especially lovely in flat soup bowls). Garnish with mint. Serve chilled.
—Adapted from Cooking with Nora by Nora Pouillon, published by Park Lane Press/ Random House, 1996.