Cold Sunflower Soup with Grilled Watermelon and Mint Puree

Watermelon on its own is just fantastic! Like strawberries, they are easy to grow and take over the whole garden. Like cantaloupes, they need plenty of room to grow. My first decadent experience was a watermelon eating contest at 6 years old. Our daycare decided to let a small group of us compete to see who could eat the most watermelon in one sitting. I don’t remember what we were supposed to win but eating as much watermelon as I could handle seemed to be the prize.

About 7 years ago, I joined my husband on a business trip to Madrid. Being omnivores at the time, we sought out vegan/vegetarian restaurants. I think all of the bone-in serrano ham hanging in the storefront windows turned us off to meat during our visit. One vegan restaurant served Sopa de Ajo Blanco. My husband had it both times that we visited them. It is a cold almond/garlic soup. It is refreshing and soothing at the same time. He asked me to make it for him recently as he remembered it and I think I came up with something similar and we were really pleased with it.

Cold Sunflower Soup with Grilled Watermelon

The original recipe is distinctly Mediterranean as it calls for almonds and grapes. But for my version I decided to put a uniquely Southern twist on it with watermelon and sunflower seeds. It is so versatile. You could use nuts/seeds and fruits more commonly found or produced in your area, for example; macadamia nuts and pineapples, walnuts and blueberries or pecans and peaches. It is very easy to make and perfect for a hot day like today.

Cold Sunflower Seed Soup with Grilled Watermelon

8 ounces raw sunflower seeds
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed (not chopped)
3 cups spring water
2 cups Ezekiel Bread crumbs, cut into cubes, soaked in water until soft
1/2 cup sunflower oil, separated
1 tbs red vinegar
1 tsp salt
1 small watermelon
1 bunch mint springs, chopped

1. Combine sunflower seeds, garlic and water in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil. Pour contents through a wire mesh sieve (containing the sunflower seeds and garlic). Repeat procedure but this time save one cup of water for the next step.

2. In a blender, combine sunflower seeds, garlic, salt and vinegar and the one cup of water and blend. Squeeze out the water from the bread crumbs and add them to the blender. Add more water if necessary.

3. With blender running, slowly add 1/4 cup of sunflower oil until thoroughly combined. Add remaining water.

4. Pour mixture through metal sieve and reserve the smooth liquid. Place in refrigerator and let cool for 2 hours or until well chilled.

5. Cut a 3″ circle or a 2″ x 3″ cube out of the watermelon.

6. In food processor or blender combine chopped mint and 2 – 3 tbsp of sunflower oil until pureed.

7. To serve, place grilled watermelon piece in the center of the bowl. Pour chilled soup around it. Garnish with mint oil and a few mint leaves.

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