Photo by: Jonathan Lovekin

Sharp and spicy watermelon soup

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1 large watermelon, seedless if possible (3.2kg)
2 tbsp sunflower oil
1/2 tsp ajwain seeds (or celery seeds)
1 tsp black cumin seeds
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1 black cardamom pod
2 bird’s-eye chillies, de-seeded and finely chopped
5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3cm piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped (20g)
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
20g coriander, leaves and stems roughly chopped (or baby coriander, as an alternative)
coarse sea salt

Pickled rind:
200ml cider vinegar
250ml rice vinegar
60g caster sugar
1/2 tsp whole cloves
1 tsp yellow mustard seeds
1 medium cinnamon stick
1 tsp black peppercorns

The starting point for this was Scully’s desire to do something with the watermelon rind that normally gets thrown away. The urge to conserve met his passion for pickling and the result – pickled watermelon rind, inspired by our twitter pal Maunika Gowardhan – was a complete revelation.

We encourage you to make pickled rind in advance next time you have a watermelon and keep it chilled for at least a week, possibly more, before making the soup using the flesh of a fresh watermelon and the mature pickle. The pickled rind lasts for many weeks in a sealed jar in the fridge. It’s delicious with cold meats or worked into various salads, such as the Watermelon and feta salad on page 55.

Ajwain seeds have a very distinct taste, slightly bitter and pungent but as welcoming as thyme. It’s worth seeking them out and having a jar on the shelf, as they work well lightly crushed and sprinkled on top of roasted root vegetables or when cooking pulse-based dishes. If you can’t find any, use celery seeds instead.
If you want to bulk this soup out, serve it with some rice or roti bread.

Serves 6

(p 31, NOPI The Cookbook)

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