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Spanish Gazpacho Soup

There are more than thirty variations of gazpacho, only some of which are the familiar raw, cold, tomato-based mixture. This version is typical of Andalusia in the hot south. Originally, it was a peasant dish that made use of the three basic ingredients much revered in Spain - oil, water and bread (in Arabic, gazpacho means 'soaked bread'). Other ingredients were added according to what was available. If you chill it, put it in a container with a tight-fitting lid so the flavours don't mingle with anything else in the refrigerator.

ingredients

serves 4
1 large sweet Spanish onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons caster sugar
4 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 large red pepper, peeled with a vegetable peeler and coarsely chopped
1 large green pepper, peeled with a vegetable peeler and coarsely chopped
3 slices country-style bread, with crusts, about 100 g
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2.5 kg ripe tomatoes, skinned
12 cm cucumber, peeled and coarsely chopped
6 tablespoons virgin olive oil
fine sea salt
a splash of Tabasco (optional)
ice (optional)

garnishes

6 cm cucumber, unpeeled, finely chopped
1 cm bread croutons, sauteed in olive oil infused with garlic
2 ripe tomatoes, finely chopped

method

1. Put one-quarter of the chopped onion in a small bowl and add % teaspoon of the sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vinegar and 3 tablespoons cold water and set aside. Reserve one-quarter of the prepared red and green peppers and put in small bowls. These small bowls will be served as garnishes at the end.

2. To make the other garnishes, put the unpeeled chopped cucumber, croutons and chopped tomatoes in separate small bowls and set aside.

3. To make the gazpacho, put the bread, garlic and remaining sugar in a flat dish, sprinkle with the remaining vinegar and 250 ml cold water and let soak.

4. Cut the skinned tomatoes in half and cut out the hard core. Put a sieve over a bowl and deseed the tomatoes into the sieve. Push the seeds with a ladle to extract all the juices. Put the juices in a blender and discard the seeds. Add the soaked bread mixture and half the tomatoes. Blend until smooth and pour into a bowl.

5. Put the remaining tomatoes, the remaining onion and 100 ml iced water in the blender. Pulse 8 times to get a medium chunky effect, then pour into the bowl.

6. Put the remaining chopped peppers, coarsely chopped cucumber, oil, salt and 150 ml iced water in the blender and pulse 8 times. Add to the bowl and stir in Tabasco, if using. Chill for up to 2 hours.

7. If you like ice added, serve with crushed ice cubes. Put the bowls of garnishes on the table for guests to scatter over the gazpacho.

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