makes about 6 cups

Gazpacho is basically a liquid salad. It takes only minutes to prepare, but the soup needs to be chilled for several hours or overnight, so plan ahead. You can adapt the texture from chunky to smooth to suit your personal preference. Any variety of tomato or a combination works well.

2 pounds tomatoes, about 8 medium, cored and quartered

1 medium cucumber, ends removed, cut into large chunks*

1 red or green bell pepper, stemmed and seeded

1 small red or yellow onion, peeled and cut into quarters

1 clove garlic, peeled

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 ½ teaspoons sea salt or to taste

freshly ground pepper to taste

croutons and fresh basil for garnishing

Combine all ingredients except the croutons and basil in a blender or food processor and process to desired consistency. Chill several hours or overnight. Adjust seasonings to taste. Serve in chilled bowls garnished with croutons and fresh basil ribbons.

*If the cucumber is organic, I don't bother to peel it.

Basil Ribbons

To create basil ribbons (to “chiffonade” the basil) for garnishing the gazpacho or bruschetta, rinse fresh basil leaves and gently pat dry. Stack the leaves on top of each other on a cutting board. Beginning at one of the pointy ends, roll the stack into a tight cylinder. With a sharp knife, carefully cut the roll into thin slices.
Homemade Croutons

Don't let those heels no one likes go to waste. Turn them into crunchy croutons for garnishing soups, salads and casseroles.

Cut bread into 3/4-inch cubes. Place in a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with fine sea salt to taste and toss very well. (You can also add a fresh-pressed clove of garlic, but it really smells up the house when the croutons are toasting.) Could also use seasoning salt, onion powder, etc. Spread on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes or until crisp and golden brown, stirring occasionally. Use immediately or let cool and then store in an airtight container.

Note: If I were doing a very small amount, I would just sauté the bread cubes in a little olive oil in a pan on the stove.

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