Gazpacho

Ideal for when you have a glut of tomatoes on your hands, the truly great thing about gazpacho is how easy it is to make. The only thing you need for an irresistible result is good-quality ingredients—they really do make all the difference to this refreshing chilled soup.

Serves 4

Prep time: about 20 minutes

Cooking time: 5-7 minutes

Chilling time: 2 hours

4 large ripe beefsteak tomatoes, about 21/4lb (lkg), peeled, quartered, and seeded

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil l tbsp sherry vinegar, cider vinegar, or apple vinegar

1 tbsp crumbled chicken or vegetable bouillon cubes

2 green bell peppers, seeded and finely diced

1 large cucumber or 2 Lebanese cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and finely diced sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

To serve garlic croutons (see cook's tip)

2 hard-boiled eggs, diced (optional)

1 Put the tomatoes in a blender with 2 tbsp water, and blend to a very smooth pulp. Transfer the pulpy liquid to a heavy saucepan and cook gently for 2-3 minutes.

2 Add the olive oil, vinegar, crumbled bouillon, peppers, and diced cucumber. Cook over medium heat for 3-4 minutes until just below the boiling point, stirring from time to time. Remove from the heat, and allow to cool.

3 Once the soup has cooled to room temperature, season very well with salt and pepper; don't scrimp on the seasoning. Pour the soup into a large bowl and chill in the refrigerator for a few hours until cold. Taste and season again if needed.

4 Serve the gazpacho chilled, garnished with garlic croutons and diced hard-boiled egg (if using).

Note It is important that your gazpacho is well seasoned— almost too generously. Since it is going to be eaten cold, it needs to be very tasty. Remember, the flavors in cold food do not come through as strongly as they do in food that is served hot or at room temperature.

Cook's tip To make garlic croutons, rub some day-old bread with the cut side of a garlic clove. Cut into small cubes, toss in a little olive oil, and sprinkle with sea salt. Spread out on a baking sheet, and roast in a preheated 350°F (180°C) oven for 10 minutes, or until crisp and golden.

Works well with

Beefsteak (pp52-63) Plum (pp64-73)

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