Watermelon and Chia Seeds Soup

Watermelon soup is a delicious, refreshing, and easy summer dish requiring very little time to prepare. It can appear on the table in no time. Equally satisfying either as an appetizer or as a dessert.  Here, paired with chia seeds to add texture, lime and ginger for a zing, and some fresh mint or lemon verbena for a variation of flavors. 

  Ingredients:

  • 4 lb / 1 kg 800 g watermelon flesh
  • 6 Tbsp/ 60 g chia seeds
  • 1 1/2 oz / 40 g fresh ginger
  • 2 limes
  • 1/2 oz / 15 g fresh mint or lemon verbena

  Peel and slice the ginger root.   Cut both ends of the limes and stand it upright on a wood board for slicing off the peel. 
Slice the peel off all the way around, being sure to remove the rind.     Quarter each lime. 
  Remove mint (or lemon verbena) leaves from the stems and reserve the nicer looking ones for serving.   Place lime, ginger and mint (or lemon verbena) at the bottom of a standing blender bowl. 
  Cut the watermelon into large pieces and discard the rind.    Add the watermelon to the other ingredients in the blender and process until smooth, in batches if necessary. 
  Pour the watermelon soup into a bowl and add the chia seeds.  Mix well, cover and refrigerate.  Serve chilled with mint or lemon verbena. You might also extra chia seeds on top for the presentation.

Enjoy!

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Strawberry Soup with Mint and Lemongrass

Spring is here… Or at least, the weather showed us a sneak preview for a couple days, enough to ignite some thoughts about seasonal fruits. Strawberries! Always a reminder of the sunshine bathed fields of strawberries of my childhood. One day they were still greenish white, the next day pink, then bright shiny red. A lovely sight was seeing our turtle pet returning from her morning walk with strawberry juice all over her face. Then we ran to the fields to verify which strawberries had her signature. It was a fun time. Each week a new type of strawberry Mara, Gariguette, Ciflorette, Charlotte or other, each with their distinctive shape and flavor. Be sure to sample them on your next visit to France in strawberry season. For now, as much as such varieties are not available here in Chicago, I like to exalt the fragrance of the strawberries by preparing them as a dessert soup with lemongrass, mint and vanilla.

20130502-094404.jpg A welcome sign of spring. Enjoy as a light dessert, or snack, or accompaniment for brunch.

20130502-094543.jpg Ingredients:
2 lb strawberries
1/2 oz fresh mint leaves
1 lemongrass stick
1/4 cup honey
1 cup water
1 lemon
1 vanilla bean

20130502-094835.jpg Remove the mint leaves from the stems, press the lemon to extract the juice and cut the lemongrass in 2-3 inch pieces. Reserve a few mint leaves for decoration.

20130502-094954.jpg Cut the vanilla in half lengthwise and scrape the pasty seeds with a knife.

20130502-105719.jpg Prepare the syrup by placing the fresh mint leaves, cut lemongrass, honey, water, lemon, and vanilla bean and seeds into a medium saucepan.

20130503-153233.jpg Bring to a boil and simmer.

20130503-153606.jpg Meanwhile rinse the strawberries, cut the stems and leaves and place them in a blender or food processor fitted with a steel blade. Reserve a few strawberries for decoration.

20130503-153828.jpg Process until you obtain a very smooth puree, and pour into a bowl.

20130503-153947.jpg Remove the syrup from the stove and pour it through a strainer into the pureed strawberries. Discard the cooked leaves, lemongrass and vanilla bean.

20130503-154149.jpg Mix well. At this time it can be prepared ahead and stored, covered, in the refrigerator.

20130503-165358.jpg For the presentation, cut the stem and leaves off the strawberries at an angle, forming a V cut into the heart of the strawberry. Then slice them to obtain heart-shaped pieces.

20130503-165630.jpg Display the heart-shaped slices on top of the strawberry soup, along with a few mint leaves and serve at once. Enjoy!