My Gazpacho

Combat the long hot summer with gazpacho, the coolest thing that ever happened to a tomato.

Gazpacho

4 ripe tomatoes, cored and peeled
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
1 carrot, coarsely chopped
1 cucumber, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 green pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
2 sprigs fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil, or 2 tablespoons dried
1/4 to 1/2 cup lemon juice to taste
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cups cold vegetable stock or V-8 juice or a combination
Salt, preferably sea salt, and freshly ground pepper to taste
Additional V-8 juice as necessary

Garnishes

1 cup slivered tofu (bean curd)
1/2 cup grated carrot
1/4 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
1/4 cup minced green pepper
1/4 cup minced cucumber
1 tomato, chopped
1/2 cup alfalfa or mung bean sprouts
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup plain yogurt

Place the tomatoes in one bowl and all the other vegetables and herbs in another bowl; put the lemon juice and olive oil together in a blender or the bowl of a food processor; and put the stock in another bowl (or have the can of V-8 handy).

Puree the vegetables in batches in the blender or food processor with the olive oil and lemon juice, using the stock and tomatoes to moisten. Pour each batch off into a large container, and when all the vegetables have been pureed, stir together well and adjust the seasonings. For a richer tomato flavor, and to thin out the soup to desired consistency, add V-8 juice to taste. Cover and chill for several hours.

For the garnishes, mix together the slivered tofu, grated carrot, mushrooms, green pepper, cucumber, and tomato in one bowl; have the sprouts and sunflower seeds in separate bowls. Place a spoonful of vegetables and tofu in each soup bowl; spoon in the soup. Top with a dollop of yogurt, a clump of sprouts, and a sprinkling of sunflower seeds. Serves 6 to 8.

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