Chilled melon gazpacho with young basil leaves, speck and croutons

Chilled_melon_gazpacho_with_young_basil_leaves_speck_and_croutons.jpg

This is a soup that just talks ‘Mediterranean’ to me: red vine-ripened tomatoes (preferably from my garden), juicy watermelon, and basil, toasted croutons and a sprinkling of crisp speck – just divine. So easy to make albeit that you do have to leave the prepared gazpacho to refrigerate overnight so that the flavours can develop. You can prepare this two days ahead to have on hand, which is what I like to do during summer.

Chilled melon gazpacho with young basil leaves, speck and croutons

800g vine-ripened tomatoes (about 7), coarsely chopped

650g watermelon, coarsely chopped

1 continental cucumber, peeled, halved lengthways, seeds removed, coarsely chopped

1 small Spanish onion, coarsely chopped

80ml extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve

2 tablespoons Sherry vinegar

1/2 garlic clove, finely chopped

350g crustless sourdough bread, cut into crouton-sized pieces

100ml clarified butter

170g piece of speck, diced

Small basil leaves, to serve

Combine tomato, watermelon, cucumber, onion, extra-virgin olive oil, vinegar, garlic and 100g sourdough in a bowl and refrigerate until bread is soft (1 hour). Transfer, in batches, to a blender and blend until very smooth. Strain through a coarse sieve into a plastic container, season to taste and refrigerate overnight for flavours to develop.
Heat clarified butter in a frying pan over medium heat, add remaining sourdough and stir occasionally until golden and crisp (3-5 minutes). Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside on absorbent paper to drain.
Add speck to the pan and stir occasionally until crisp and golden (3-5 minutes). Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside on absorbent paper to drain.
Divide chilled soup among chilled serving bowls, scatter with the croutons, speck and basil leaves, add a few drops of extra oil and serve.
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