The beloved (now shuttered) Restaurant Nora in Washington, D.C., took an early lead in the movement to use 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 sweltering summer day.
7 cups cubed watermelon pieces, rind and seeds removed (about 6 pounds untrimmed)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (about 1 lime)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
1 whole red chili pepper or ¼ to ½ teaspoon of crushed red pepper (start with the smaller amount and add more to taste if needed)
½ cup sliced red onion
2 small cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup (loosely packed) fresh mint leaves, minced, plus fresh mint for garnish
1 zucchini, seeded and cut into ¼-inch dice
1 green or yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into ¼-inch dice
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Place the watermelon in a blender and puree until smooth. Over a large bowl, pour the watermelon puree through a sieve.
Pour half the sieved puree back into the blender. Add the lime and lemon juice, chili, onion, and garlic. Puree until smooth.
Combine this seasoned puree with the reserved puree. Stir in the mint, zucchini, and the green or yellow bell pepper. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Refrigerate until chilled.
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, with additional thanks to Chuck Bernstein.
Recipe tested by Ellen Ficklen; email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org