The last gasp of summer is here. Literally. Irma is blowing through and we’ve been without power for most of the day. Yet here I am sitting in the dark with the wind howling outside writing a post about gazpacho, a sunny summer soup. There’s a reason: gently flavored Scuppernog Watermelon and Cucumber Gazpacho is summer’s parting gift and fall’s welcome present. Its ingredients bridge the seasons and will be perfectly appropriate in a day or so when Atlanta’s famously balmy fall weather returns. (Update: I wrote this post during the storm, but waited until power came back on to finish it – and it looks like warm sunny days are in the forecast!)
Green hued muscadines, called scuppernogs, are a native Southern grape appearing in markets towards the end of August. Scuppernogs are generally considered to be the sweeter variety of muscadine and recommended in this recipe. (The deep purple muscadines make an excellent muscadine ketchup. Click here for recipe.) To peel muscadines make an X at the end of the muscadine and pop the flesh out. Cut in half and remove the seeds.
The end of the watermelon season in GA is the beginning of September, but regionally grown watermelon can still be found most of the month.
Last week I picked up both the first of the muscadines and the last of the watermelons at the farmers market. I also found just-picked cucumbers, scallions and even fresh ginger root. With a few additional kitchen staples and basil from my garden, Scuppernog, Watermelon and Cucumber Gazpacho came together naturally.
To keep the sweet gentle flavors and demure color intact, diced fruit, vegetables and herbs need to be added to the pureed soup. Basil is a small, but necessary herb in this soup, but if pureed, it turns the rosy hued soup an unpleasant shade and drowns out the earthy scuppernongs and sweet watermelon.
Scuppernog Watermelon and Cucumber Gazpacho Recipe
makes 6 bowls to enjoy on a summery fall day
3 cups chopped watermelon
1 ½ cups peeled and seeded scuppernog muscadines
1 cup chopped cucumber
2 Tbs chopped scallion
3 Tbs lemon juice
1 Tbs sherry vinegar
1 tsp salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp diced fresh ginger
1 cup ½” diced watermelon
½ cup ½” diced cucumber
¼ cup finely diced scallion
2 Tbs basil chiffonade (basil leaves layered, rolled and cut into thin strips)
Puree all gazpacho ingredients in a mixer until smooth.
In large bowl mix diced watermelon, cucumber, scallion and basil.
Puree all gazpacho ingredients in a mixer until smooth. Add to diced mixture and stir gently.
- If scuppernongs are not available, new fall grapes of any variety can be substituted.
- Mint can also be substituted for basil.
- White wine or champagne vinegar can be substituted for sherry vinegar