My life would be wildly boring if everything I had to do was completed on time. I have tried for years to be the perfect on-time woman to no avail. So, I’ve thrown my hands up in acceptance and admit I work far better under pressure, TV call times being the one and only exception. This week has been the proverbial test of this pressure job. I made a fantastic chilled watermelon soup on Monday afternoon for this month’s Five Star Makeover, which always has to be in front of your screen by Thursday of the feature week. Last month’s challenge is the best example of how well I function with time restrictions. I would have been ahead of myself had I been successful in photographing the lovely sopa, but knowing I had a 6 am flight Tuesday morning, put me in a frenzy and nothing worked out. Hands were shaking, cell phone with last minute details and conversations removed me from my patio set and everything came out blurry.
That’s been bothering me. Imagine that. The last three days have been mental torture of defeat. Seeing one tow of the other creations by the spectacular group motivated the resilience to keep my streak of pressure performance.
With summer heat in D.C. scorching up to 103 last week and Atlanta forecast to reach 106 tomorrow, I succumbed to the need of making a last minute situation work. The soup was done. I just needed to reshoot it.
And here it is! I landed at Dulles airport at 1 this morning, got home an hour later and was determined to rise and shine to the smell and appearance of a bright red chiller that would offset the morning humidity. Fortunately, my mother had saved all of my ingredients and I was able to whip it up just as I did on Monday. Bright and early, I made some slight adjustments, chilled it and got to propping, plating and shooting.
The increasing heat helped expedite the process. What I really wanted to do was slurp out the bowl and treat our morning visitors with sexy goodness. Because, yes, that’s exactly what this summertime hit turned out to be. It’s temperature is a bit lower than an average cold option. I was short of freezing it, making more of a melting sorbet. The goal was to allow the chill factor to linger on a bit longer in your mouth. The stifling heat requires it. I was pleased with all of the components, primarily watermelon and ginger.
(Enjoying the soup indoors is equally satisfying!)
Now, you’d be convinced I am a lover of watermelon given the imposed sleep deprivation last night to share this post. But, I’m not. In fact, I don’t like watermelon as a stand-alone fresh fruit. It borderline repulses the spirit. My family has revoked all kinds of cards for such dislike, but whatever! However, there is a nostalgic connection to my childhood eating watermelon Jolly Ranchers. That sweet spot created a perfect opportunity to use the hard candy in the soup!
Why my mom has Jolly Ranchers in the house is beyond my understanding but I got lucky this morning.
You like it already, don’t you?! As I created the soup, I thought of ingredients that would naturally pair, but not predicatable, hence the use of basil and not mint (though only as garnish). Pineapple is a mainstay fruit in Mami’s kitchen so there was no reason not to include it. The secondary additions were simply to top off what could double as fuzzy spritzer if thinned out or a sassy cocktail if modified with rum or vodka.
Especially refreshing and simply perfect as an appetizer, a full-size serving for lunch or a lighter dessert option! It just works.
My tongue is happy and my hands are cooled off after holding super a cold processor, glasses, mugs and cups. Fortunately, all of this happened on the deck, under the shaded table!
See, cooking under pressure works out sometimes. Glad it did this morning!
Chilled Watermelon Soup
- 1/4 one medium watermelon, seeded and cubed
- 18 - 1" watermelon cubes for garnish
- 2 cups pineapple, cubed
- 1/2 cup Chardonnay
- 1/4 cup honey or agave (less depending on sweetness of watermelon)
- leaves from 3 stems fresh basil
- juice from one fresh lime
- 1 tsp. ginger, grated
- pinch of salt to taste
- 6 individual watermelon jolly ranchers
- mint leaves for garnish
In large processor, add all ingredients, except 2 basil stems. Set to chop setting to break down the chunky fruits for 1 minute. Stir and switch to pulse for 2 minutes. Stir and switch to liquify for an additional 2 minutes. Chill for 3 hours. In small saucers or medium bowls, place 3 watermelon cubes in each saucer. Fill will soup. Garnish with mint leaves and Jolly Rancher candy on plate.
Chef's notes: For a thicker soup, you can use plain yogurt while processing all ingredients. Also, squeeze a pinch of added lime juice once served. Jolly Ranchers can be crushed and added to soup once served.