Watermelon Soup with Dungeness Crabmeat

Été 2012
food and drink

BY: Eric Pateman

Watermelon soup, served cold, makes a surprisingly fresh and spicy alternative to tomato-based gazpacho this summer. The Asian influences of coconut cream and Thai chili recall Eric Pateman’s Pacific Rim home in Vancouver. If you have access to fresh kaffir limes, use their juice in this soup. If you can’t find fresh Dungeness crabmeat, use pasteurized crab claw meat found in a can in fish markets.

2 tbsp (30 mL) grape seed (or canola) oil
¼ cup (60 mL) finely chopped lemon grass (tender parts only)
4 kaffir lime leaves, julienned
3 tbsp (45 mL) finely minced shallots
2 tbsp (30 mL) finely chopped ginger
2 tbsp (30 mL) finely chopped garlic
1 tsp (5 mL) finely minced Thai chili (with seeds)
8 cups (2 L) fresh seedless watermelon, cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) cubes
1 cup (250 mL) coconut cream (not coconut milk)
2 tbsp (30 mL) lime juice
3 tbsp (45 mL) fish sauce
½ lb (250 g) fresh Dungeness crabmeat (about 1¼ cups/310 mL)
¼ cup (60 mL) fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
¼ cup (60 mL) fresh Thai basil leaves, finely chopped

1 Heat a large soup pot on medium heat and add grape seed oil. Add lemon grass, lime leaves, shallots, ginger, garlic and chili in pot and sauté for 2 minutes or until fragrant and wilted; do not brown. Add watermelon cubes and simmer over medium-low heat for about 20 minutes until the cubes have mostly broken down. Remove from heat. Transfer to a blender and purée. Strain soup through a fine sieve into a large bowl, then return soup to pot and discard residue. Add coconut cream, lime juice and 2 tbsp of the fish sauce to pot; stir well.

2 For chilled watermelon soup, transfer soup to a large bowl and refrigerate uncovered for about 2 hours. For warm soup, transfer soup to a medium saucepan and reheat on medium for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

3 Pick through crabmeat by hand to remove all pieces of shell. Combine crabmeat, chopped cilantro, Thai basil and remaining 1 tbsp (15 mL) fish sauce and toss lightly. Divide crabmeat between soup dishes, piling high into the centre, and pour soup around it.

Makes 8 appetizer servings or 4 regular servings

What to Serve