Nothing celebrates summer like a bowl of chilled gazpacho prepared when tomatoes are at their peak. Only the most flavorful garden specimens will do.
SERVES 6 AS A FIRST COURSE
5 medium tomatoes, cored
2 medium cucumbers
1 small onion, diced
1 large green bell pepper, cored and cut into Вј-inch dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
в…“ cup red wine vinegar
в…“ cup olive oil
ВЅ cup Vegetable Stock, tomato juice, or water
A few dashes Tabasco
Salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Croutons (see Note)
- Roughly chop all of the tomatoes. Peel both cucumbers and cut in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds with a teaspoon and discard them. Roughly chop 3 of the cucumber halves and add to the tomatoes along with the diced onion. In batches pure this mixture in a blender or food processor until almost smooth but not liquefied. Pour into a large serving bowl.
- By hand finely dice the remaining cucumber half and add to the soup. Add all of the remaining ingredients except the croutons and stir to blend. Chill at least 2 hours before serving. Taste to adjust seasoning. Serve well chilled, garnished with the croutons, in individual soup bowls.
NOTE: To make croutons remove the crusts from a few slices of bread. Lightly toast them in a toaster. Rub both sides with a garlic half (you will probably need a couple of them). Then, using a pastry brush, brush both sides lightly with olive oil. Cut the bread into ВЅ-inch cubes and lay them on a cookie sheet. Dry them out until they are crisp in a 350В°F oven that has just been turned off. Toss occasionally. They will get harder as they come to room temperature.