Combat the long hot summer with gazpacho, the coolest thing that ever happened to a tomato.
6 tomatoes, very ripe, cored and quartered
1 cucumber, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 green pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 small onion, peeled and quartered
2 medium garlic cloves, peeled
5 thin slices, or one medium-size roll, dry French or Italian bread, crusts removed
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar (more if desired)
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/8 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1 cup cold water
1/4 cup diced cucumber
1/4 cup diced green pepper
1/4 cup minced onion or scallions
1/4 cup diced tomato
1/4 cup croutons
2 hard-boiled eggs, diced
Put the tomatoes, cucumber, green pepper, onion, garlic, and dry bread through the fine blade of a food chopper, or puree in a blender. Set a strainer over a large bowl and put ground mixture through the strainer, pressing out as much liquid as possible. Retain the mash in the strainer.
Whisk the remaining ingredients into the liquid in the bowl. To this mixture add, a tablespoon at a time, enough of the tomato mash from the strainer to obtain a soup that is the consistency of thick cream. Discard the remaining mash.
Chill the gazpacho for at least 2 hours. To make the croutons, sauté cubed French or whole wheat bread in 2 tablespoons olive oil with 1 garlic clove until crisp. Place the garnishes in small bowls and pass them around after serving the soup. Serves 6.