“What’s this?” I ask holding up a rainbow-hued heavily gnarled heirloom tomato to my new class of kindergarten to first graders. (It’s a dirty game where the unknown is fun in what I like to call, Mystery Fruit and Vegetables.)
“A pumpkin!” An enthusiastic girl chirps. So I hold up another one, a smooth and slightly fuzzy peachy-apricot, “And this? No calling out, hands up please. Let’s think.”
“Pumpkin!” Same enthusiastic bird chirps. I hold a red and green striped golf-ball sized beauty to the sky.
“Pumpkin! This is fun.” I begin to consider MacGyvering a muzzle from an apron.
Finally, the clouds clear. A shy boy with, I must admit, one of the coolest names I have yet heard, who entered class shrieking he wanted to go home and has only now just stopped sniffling raises his hand…
I beg, “Please…” (Please don’t say you want to go home, to the bathroom, don’t understand what we are doing, or break down when trying to speak.)
He just got 10 times cooler. His sniffling clears. His beet-red face returns to a normal shade and suddenly, he’s excited to make our Watermelon-Tomato Gazpacho.
His understanding fuels my excitement through class and the remainder of the week. Halfway through class his comment on chopping is, “this is easy!” with an honest smile on his face. At the end of class he’s asked for seconds and a to-go cup (and so have a number of his classmates).
His own First Day Fears and mine are gone.
2 cups roughly chopped (seedless) watermelon
1 cup (about 1 large) roughly chopped tomato
1 cucumber, roughly chopped
1 red bell pepper, roughly chopped
1 cup cilantro, plus more for garnish
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
Combine and blend all ingredients in a food processor until smooth (some chunks can remain for texture). Taste, add more salt if desired. Transfer to serving bowls, garnish with cilantro and homemade croutons (recipe below) and serve. Soup should be served slightly chilled—just refrigerate the watermelon before preparing.
Note: Change the color of this soup by using different colored watermelon and tomatoes—deep red, red, yellow, orange and a pale green are all possible. A sprinkle of feta is also a delicious topping.