Saucy grew up eating cold watermelon soup... at family gatherings on the Russian side of the family, it was called kvas. A quick internet search for accurate spelling revealed that kvass is actually a fermented yeast-based alcoholic drink, similar to a beer or ale - found in Russia.
Saucy figures her family enjoyed far too much of the vodka-laced watermelon soup they favoured and simply called it kvas, so who knows? It's a mystery.
To enjoy a cool refreshing serving (bowl or glass) of this kvas, you will need: a ripe watermelon, cold fresh tap water, sugar, salt, and the juice of a half lemon.
Optional ingredients include: cucumber, vodka, white (Riesling) wine, Triple Sec (orange) liqueur, cilantro, peppermint leaves, sour cream, or feta cheese. Read on.
You will need to use some of the sugar and water to make a simple syrup. Simple syrup is just that - a softly boiled syrup of equal parts water and sugar. Make this ahead of time and cool it. There should be no granules of sugar in simple syrup.
Today, Saucy made a simple syrup of 1/3 cup sugar to 1/3 cup water. Later in the summer, Saucy will make it in larger quantities and have it on hand for use in cocktails and punches. Most bartenders keep a simple syrup handy... if stored in the fridge, it will keep for several weeks.
You will also need water for the soup base. This is where the cucumbers come in. During the summer Saucy also keeps containers of water in the fridge, each one infused with different things: melon balls, lemon or lime slices, or cucumber slices. Today for the soup, she grabbed the cucumber water...
... and she squeezed a half lemon that she had on hand, too.
Cut a medium - to - large seedless watermelon in half. Divide the halves into quarters. As neatly as you can, cube the melon into nice, even pieces. Place them in a large glass mixing bowl. The odd sized off-cuts can go into your blender. About 1/4 of the melon should be cubed and the other 1/4 should be placed into the blender.
Add some of the cucumber water... start slow. Say, about a cup. Fire up your blender and see how it goes. You may need to add water, depending on the condition of your melon. The finished puree should be the consistency of a runny Slurpee on a hot day at 7-11.
At this point add the lemon juice and salt to taste. The puree should be salted enough that it enhances the flavour of the melon but doesn't taste overly salty. It's a fine line so add your salt lightly and keep testing. For a batch this size, Saucy would use no more than 1/4 teaspoon.
A light foam might form on top of the puree, skim it off. It can go down the sink.
Pour the puree over the cubed melon. You can run it through a sieve but this won't be necessary if it is absolutely seed-free and pureed well. Sweeten to taste with the simple syrup. Stir the mixture gently. There will be some bubbles, but the will disappear.
Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate well. The kvas should be served within a day - it is best made in the early afternoon for an evening get together.
As an adult, Saucy enjoys her watermelon soup with feta cheese, garnished with cilantro. As a child, she enjoyed it as it was made - plain. That is, until she was old enough and realized that the adults and children were enjoying their soups from different sources... the adult soup had a fair amount of vodka in it. This would easily explain Aunty Virginia making snow angels on the front lawn at Baba's birthday party every August... a story for another day.
Wonderful variations of this basic kvas are (aside from a generous spiking with fine Russian spirits): add a dash of Triple Sec is a nice alternative to vodka, or a nice Riesling. Sour cream can be substituted for the feta cheese as a topping for a traditional Russian cold soup.
Enjoy some of this traditional fare of Saucy's family on a hot day... perhaps on the upcoming long weekend. If you decide to add the vodka or Triple Sec, skip the cheese garnish - and watch your Aunties closely.