Summertime staple on the stovetop

Published 7:17 pm Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Memorial Day is over and that means one thing: it’s officially summer.

It didn’t take long for it to get hot, and it rarely does in Alabama.

One of my favorite summertime treats is watermelon.

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When it’s blazing hot outside, few things are as tasty and refreshing as a cold slice of watermelon.

If you want to do some entertaining people watching, set up close to the watermelons at your favorite grocer and watch the passers-by check for ripe ones.

Everyone seems to have their own technique.

Nothing is more disappointing than cracking open an unripe watermelon and picking one that is ready can be tricky.

One method that rarely lets me down is the knocking technique.

It’s fairly simple. Find a melon that has a yellow or lightly colored bottom, that generally means it’s ripe. If there are stripes all along the watermelon, odds are it’s not ready.

Once you’ve found one that has a lightly discolored bottom, knock on it lightly with one knuckle.

It should sound hollow. If it does, you’ve got yourself a ripe watermelon.

If it sounds dense, leave it.

Also, it should be heavy for it’s size. Since a watermelon is mostly water, it should have some heft to it.

You don’t often see recipes for watermelons because they’re great to eat by themselves.

However, there are a few things you can do that will make your loved ones say, “you did what with a watermelon?!”

Obviously a watermelon is best suited for drinks and other liquid-based fares – like soup!

GIve this watermelon soup, which is served cold like gazpacho, a try this summer and do a little something different with those melons and for an extra something different, this recipes pairs the melons with beets.

You’ll need:

1 Tablespoon vegetable oil

1 medium sweet onion, peeled and sliced

1/2 pound beets, peeled and roughly diced

4 cups chicken broth (may use low-salt)

1  teaspoon salt

2-1/2 cups diced seeded watermelon (rind removed)

1 Tablespoon chopped fresh mint leaves, optional

In a large stockpot over medium-low heat, gently saute onions in the vegetable oil until onions are translucent. Stir in beets, reduce heat to low and cook until beets begin to fall apart, about 35 minutes. Stir often to avoid burning and sticking.

Add chicken broth and salt to the onions and beets and cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Strain but reserve the liquid. Place strained beets and onions in a blender or food processor. Add watermelon and puree until smooth. Return to the stockpot and stir in reserved liquid.

Refrigerate soup for at least four hours or overnight before serving chilled.

Tiffany Cannon is a field editor for Taste of Home Magazine and owner of 2ate9 Bakery and Catering in Demopolis. She can be reached via email at