Spicy Tomato-and-Watermelon Gazpacho with Crab


The Lees created this gazpacho as a riff on a recipe from The Virginia Housewife, a seminal Southern cookbook first published in 1824 that is still in print. They sweeten the cold tomato soup with watermelon and make it fiery with habanero and poblano chiles. More Cold Soups

Spicy Tomato-and-Watermelon Gazpacho with Crab
Photo: Photo © Fredrika Stjärne
Total Time:
45 mins


  • 1 habanero chile, preferably red

  • 4 cups seedless watermelon chunks (1 1/2 pounds)

  • 1 large garlic clove, mashed to a paste

  • 2 pounds tomatoes, cored

  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

  • Salt

  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

  • 1/4 cup buttermilk

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 pound jumbo lump crab, picked over

  • 2 small Hass avocados, cut into 1/2-inch dice

  • 1 large poblano, finely diced


  1. Roast the habanero over a gas flame until lightly charred all over. Using a paper towel, rub off as much skin as possible. Remove the stem and seeds and transfer the chile to a blender. Add the watermelon and garlic and puree; transfer to a bowl and refrigerate.

  2. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil and fill a bowl with ice water. Score the tomato bottoms with an X. Add the tomatoes to the boiling water and blanch for 10 seconds to loosen their skins. Transfer the tomatoes to the ice water to cool.

  3. Peel the tomatoes and halve them crosswise. Working over a sieve set in a bowl, pry out the seeds. Press on the seeds to extract the juice, then discard them. Transfer the tomatoes and their juices to the blender and puree. Stir the tomato puree into the watermelon puree along with the vinegar and season the gazpacho with salt.

  4. In a medium bowl, whisk the lemon juice with the buttermilk and olive oil and season with salt. Fold in the crab, avocado and poblano. Ladle the soup into bowls, mound the crab salad in the center and serve.

Make Ahead

The gazpacho can be prepared through Step 3 and refrigerated for up to 2 days.

Suggested Pairing

With help from renowned Bordeaux winemaker Stephane Derenoncourt, Boxwood Winery in Middleburg, Virginia, produces rich red wines from Bordeaux varietals like Cabernet Franc and Merlot. It makes a juicy, berry-scented rosé from Cabernet Franc that goes perfectly with this soup.

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