This traditional, chilled Spanish soup is as cooling as they come: the perfect thing to serve on a hot summer’s day or a sultry evening. You can, if you like, press the puréed soup through a sieve to get a really smooth finish – but bear in mind you’ll lose some of the volume if you do this. It goes without saying that the tomatoes need to be full of flavour or you’ll be selling your soup short.
Tear the bread into pieces and put into a bowl with the crushed garlic.
Pour on 200ml cold water and leave to soak while you prepare the remaining ingredients.
Cover the tomatoes with boiling water, leave for a couple of minutes, then scoop out and peel off their skins. Quarter and deseed the tomatoes, putting all the seeds and clinging juicy bits into a sieve over a bowl. Put the skinned flesh into a separate bowl. When all the tomatoes are done, press the seedy bits in the sieve to extract as much juice as possible, adding it to the tomato flesh.
Put the soaked bread and garlic, tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, onion, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and sugar in a food processor (you should just about be able to do it in one batch). Process to a coarse purée and season with salt and pepper to taste. You can leave it chunky, or whiz a bit longer then press through a sieve, if you prefer.
Cover and chill for 2–3 hours, then taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve the gazpacho topped with croûtons and shredded basil or chopped parsley.
- 2 thick slices of stale white bread (about 100g), crusts removed
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1–1.5kg large, ripe tomatoes
- ½ cucumber, peeled and sliced
- 1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped
- ½ small red onion, chopped
- 50ml extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (ideally apple balsamic)
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to finish
- Shredded basil or chopped flat-leaf parsley
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