Have you ever wondered how to take a refreshing summer salad and turn it into a soup? I hadn’t either, but apparently the Spanish had, and the result is gazpacho: Cool refreshing gorgeous coral pink velvety deliciousness! If you’ve never tasted gazpacho, this is far better than you would imagine. (Believe me, this is nothing like v-8 juice.) If you’ve had and appreciated gazpacho before, you may very well love this version! With the incorporation of country bread, very good olive oil and aged sherry vinegar, it’s got a depth and complexity of flavor that leaves you licking your happy lips and holding out your glass for maybe just a little more. This can be a first course, served in champagne glasses if you like! Or serve it for lunch or on a hot summer evening along with some crusty bread and cheese. Absolutely no cooking required.
For the Soup:
- 2 cups cubed day-old country bread, crusts removed
- 2 medium-size garlic cloves, chopped (see NOTE)
- 1 small pinch of cumin seeds or ground cumin
- coarse salt (kosher or sea)
- 3 pounds ripest, most flavorful tomatoes possible, seeded and chopped
- 2 small Kirby (pickling) cucumbers, peeled and chopped
- 1 large Italian (frying) pepper, cored, seeded and chopped (see NOTE 2)
- 1 medium-size red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped
- 3 Tablespoons chopped red onion
- 1/2 cup fragrant extra-virgin olive oil (of very good quality)
- 1/2 cup chilled bottled spring water, or more as needed (optional – I didn’t use, and was very satisfied with the result, but you may choose to add)
- 3 Tablespoons sherry vinegar, preferably aged, or more to taste
For the Garnishes:
- Finely diced cucumber
- Finely diced peeled Granny Smith apple
- Finely diced slightly under-ripe tomato
- Finely diced green bell pepper
- Slivered small basil leaves
- Toasted, Herbed coarse bread crumbs
Place the bread in a bowl, covered with cold water and allow to soak for 5 to 10 minutes. Drain the bread, squeezing out the excess liquid.
Place the garlic, cumin, and ½ teaspoon salt in a mortar and, using a pestle, mash them to a paste.