Sod the leftovers and the defrosting. Today is going to be one of the hottest days of the year and it is therefore one of the very few worthy of gazpacho. I love this stuff, and not because I’m a Hispanophile; I first ate it on a West Walian beach after an ill-advised dip in the Irish sea and it has been my favourite soup ever since. It was one of the first things I ate that really woke me up to how good food could be simple and cheap as well as faffy and expensive. You don’t need to be on a beach to enjoy this, though it helps, but you definitely need to be in the sunshine. Cold days and cold soup are not good companions.
For two good bowlfuls you will need:
Cupboard (or things you may already have)
clove of garlic
olive oil (no need to use your extra-best virgin oil on this)
a slice of bread (or two if you want to make croutons as well), or a cup of breadcrumbs (ha, I used up some leftovers after all!)
dash or two of red or white vinegar
half a cucumber
one green pepper
400g tin of peeled tomatoes
1. If you are making your own breadcrumbs, put a slice of bread into a liquidiser, or food processor and blend it until it breaks down into small crumbs but not dust. You should have a small cereal bowlful.
2. Peel and crush the garlic clove and mix into the breadcrumbs with a couple of dessertspoonfuls of olive oil. The crumbs should be coated with oil but not dripping.
3. De-stalk, de-seed and chop the pepper, chop the cucumber, and put into a blender with the peeled tomatoes. Blend together until smooth. You may find, once you’ve made this a few times, that you prefer a thicker more tomato-based flavour; in that case leave out a bit of the more watery veg (the cucumber and pepper) or add more tomatoes. And vice-versa if you prefer a greener, fresher taste. This is the point when you remember your lessons on colours from primary school: mix green and red together and you get…brown.
4. Pour the vegetables into a bowl and stir in the garlic-bread-oil mix. The bread will thicken up the soup and the garlic-oil will add a depth of flavour. Stir it together well and season with a teaspoon or two of red or white wine vinegar, some salt and black pepper and some more olive oil. It can be eaten straight away (preferably garnished with ice-cubes and sizzling croutons) or the flavour improves if it’s left for a few hours.
5. If you want croutons, make them just before serving the soup. Cut another slice of bread into cubes, heat up a little olive oil in a frying pan and then fry the cubes until golden and crisp. Whilst they are cooking get the bowls of soup ready then tip the hot croutons into the cold soup at the table to get a lovely satisfying sizzle.