GAZPACHO IS OFTEN CALLED A SALAD SOUP. It is much more like a very vegetable-laden salad dressing that eats like a soup. The vinegar and olive oil make an emulsion, which is why it is necessary to drizzle the olive oil slowly into the puree to help them come together. The bread is an unusual addition that makes the soup a bit creamier and silkier.
Pouring the puree around the diced vegetables in a shallow bowl makes a nice presentation, but you can just as easily stir the diced vegetables into the puree at the last step, before letting the soup rest in the refrigerator. The gazpacho needs at least a couple of hours, preferably longer, to let the acids and oils do their thing; a step that shouldn’t be skipped. Making gazpacho the day before you serve it is an even better idea.
Of course, using fresh vine-ripened tomatoes is ideal for this dish, but canned fruit works surprisingly well. Both the skin and seeds add flavor to the soup, so don’t bother to peel or core the tomatoes.
1 cucumber, peeled and seeded
2 cups tomatoes, chopped; local and ripe or
canned San Marzanos without calcium chloride
1 large green bell pepper
1 large red onion
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tsp salt
2 cups tomato juice
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
1 slice white bread, crusts removed
1/2 cup olive oil
2 Tbs lime juice (1 lime)
1 tsp hot sauce
Prepare cucumber, tomato, bell pepper and red onion by coarsely chopping and combining in a large bowl. Sprinkle salt and let sit for 15 minutes. Remove one fourth of the mixture, dice into small pieces and reserve in another bowl.
Add garlic, tomato juice and vinegar to vegetable mixture and stir to combine. Pour contents into a food processor. Add basil leaves. Tear bread into small pieces and add to mixture. Pulse for several seconds to combine. Turn processor on continuously and as mixture purees, slowly drizzle olive oil into the mix, about 45 seconds. The mixture will emulsify. Pour mixture into serving bowl or storage container, stir in lime juice and hot sauce. Adjust acidity and heat of gazpacho with additional vinegar and hot sauce to taste.
Let soup rest for at least two hours in refrigerator for flavors to meld. To serve, mound several tablespoons of reserved diced vegetables in a shallow bowl and top with a dollop of sour cream. Pour gazpacho around the mound and serve.