A fruity Spanish olive oil, preferably from Andalusia, is important, as is a good sherry vinegar, preferably aged. Both can be found at specialty groceries or mail-ordered. If you can spare the time, garnish the gazpacho with tiny bread croutons fried in olive oil.
Four 1-inch-thick slices day-old coarse country bread from a round loaf, crusts removed, torn into small pieces
3 pounds ripest, most flavorful tomatoes possible, washed and quartered (do not use beefsteak tomatoes)
4 tablespoons good-quality sherry vinegar, preferably aged
3 medium garlic cloves
Small pinch of cumin seeds or ground cumin
Coarse sea salt
2 firm medium-sized Kirby (pickling) cucumbers, peeled
1 medium green bell pepper, cored and seeded
1 medium red bell pepper, cored and seeded
One quarter of a medium red onion, peeled
1/2 cup fragrant, fruity extra-virgin Spanish olive oil, preferably from Andalusia
1/2 cup bottled spring water, or more to taste
2 to 3 tablespoons each finely diced cucumbers, peeled green apples, slightly underripe tomatoes, and green bell peppers
Slivered young basil leaves
1. Place the bread in a large bowl, and squeeze out the seeds and some of the juice from the tomatoes over it. Crumble and massage the bread with your fingers. Add 1 tablespoon of the vinegar and let it soak for 5 to 10 minutes.
2. Using a mortar and pestle, pound the garlic to a paste with the cumin and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
3. Transfer the bread mixture to a food processor along with the garlic paste, and process until completely smooth. Leave this mixture in the food processor while preparing the next step.
4. Chop the tomatoes, cucumbers, red and green peppers, and onion into medium dice. Place the vegetables in a bowl, stir in three large pinches of salt, and let stand for 15 minutes so that the tomatoes throw off some liquid.
5. Working in three batches, process the vegetable mixture in a food processor until as smooth as possible, adding a third of the olive oil to each batch. (The first batch will be processed with the bread mixture.) Transfer each finished batch to a sieve set over a large bowl.
6. Pass the gazpacho through a sieve, pressing on it with the back of a wooden spoon. Whisk in the remaining 3 tablespoons vinegar and the water. Adjust salt to taste. Chill the gazpacho for at least 3 hours before serving. (If making the gazpacho a day ahead, add the garlic 2 to 3 hours before serving, lest it overwhelm the other flavors.) Serve in glass bowls or wine glasses, with the suggested garnishes.
Adapted from The Greatest Dishes: Around the World in 80 Recipes © 2004 by Anya Von Bremzen. Published by HarperCollins.
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