Chilled tomato soup is not only eaten in Spain, but throughout the Mediterranean region. This recipe is adapted from Laura Calder's book French Taste, and is utterly refreshed on a hot summer evening. It's so easy to make; simply chop, chill, and blend.
Making tiny croutons as a topping is optional, but cubing, drizzling with olive oil, and sprinkling with salt and herbs, then baking until crispy results in tiny irresistible bites. Once I begin snacking on them, I find it hard to stop.
Toppings are a fun part of eating this soup. Drizzle with olive oil and a little bit of balsamic vinegar, then add croutons, feta cheese, fresh basil, avocado - whatever takes your fancy.
Using fresh, garden-ripe tomatoes is ideal, but failing that, store-bought, vine-ripened, fully ripe tomatoes will suffice.
Gazpacho à la provençal
2 pounds ripe tomatoes, quartered, seeded, chopped
1/2 English cucumber, diced
1/2 sweet red bell pepper, diced
1/2 small red onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 cup tomato juice, OR de-fatted chicken stock, OR vegetable stock
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
12 fresh basil leaves
salt and pepper to taste
pinch of cayenne pepper
Honey (optional) I used 1 Tablespoon
Combine all ingredients in a large glass bowl. Cover and chill overnight. The next day, puree the mixture, leaving some chunks, if desired. Season to taste.