Monday, July 8, 2013

Watermelon Rind Soup, a la Yepros

With 98 degree (Fahrenheit) days, and almost the same number in humidity, Marash Girl has been eating a lot of watermelon, and as she enjoys the crisp cold fruit, she remembers hearing her father tell of the watermelon rind soup that his mother made for the family in Marash, (using everything she could in order to keep her family from starvation).  

Upon searching the web for a recipe for Watermelon Rind Soup, Marash Girl found many praises for the nutritional value of the watermelon rind to be eaten along with the watermelon, or blended into a cold drink with the red part of the watermelon and the green outer skin removed, but nowhere on the web did she find a recipe for Armenian Watermelon Rind Soup.  And so, imagining what her grandmother might have done, she offers you the following:

Remove the watermelon from its rind, and eat.  After you have had your fill, remove the outer green of the watermelon rind, and cut the thick white rind into bite-sized pieces. While you are doing that, simmer in olive oil a couple of chopped onions (without the skins, of course, although I hear that boiling the onion skins and adding the resulting broth to your soups is very healthful, and yes, of course, using the onion skins at Easter as the traditional Armenian dye for your Easter eggs!)  When the chopped onions are golden, add the chunks of peeled watermelon rind and sauté.  Then add a can or two of Italian stewed tomatoes (depending on how much watermelon rind you have) and simmer until rind is softened, about 30 minutes, more or less.  After cooking is completed, add lots of lemon (or lime) juice, salt, pepper, and Aintab red pepper.  Improves with age, so you may want to serve this the next day, over rice pilaf, bulgur pilaf, or with thick slices of freshly baked bread. Or serve as a side dish with whatever meal you've prepared. Chicken & pilaf, perhaps?  (We call this type of vegetable presentation a "soulu", as it's slightly watery, not quite soupy, yet not without broth and can be made with or without meat.)

Marash Boy remembers eating Watermelon Rind Soup (Sulu) in Springfield, Massachusetts, prepared by his mother, and he says it was "eshki" (sour), and sometimes made with bits of lamb.

If you happen to know the traditional Armenian recipe for Watermelon Rind Soup (or Sulu, as the Armenians would call it), please share in the comments below, and thanks!


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