A lot of the garden is behind its usual ripening schedule. I think maybe the weeks of smoke-darkened skies earlier this summer might have set things back a bit. Usually, by this time of year, I've canned a batch of tomato sauce and another of whole tomatoes. But this year, the first of the tomatoes are just now starting to turn red. No matter - if I have to, I'll pick the green ones when the first freeze threatens and ripen them inside for a batch of sauce. But right now, I can finally start lunching on fresh red gazpacho - a liquid salad-soup always served cold. I have a couple of half-gallon canning jars. They're too big to use for canning, but they're perfect for refrigerating this recipe.
Red Gazpacho (makes approx ½ gallon)
3 pounds ripe tomatoes - peeled and seeded*
1 cup fresh tomato juice*
1 green bell pepper - seeded and ribs removed
1 red onion
1 large cucumber - peeled and seeded
6 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 large garlic cloves
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 slice stale bread - crusts removed, soaked in water and squeezed dry
salt, pepper to taste
Working in batches, liquefy everything in a blender. Combine and refrigerate at least one hour. Stir or shake well before serving, in a soup bowl. Optional: garnish with croutons or your choice of diced pepper, cucumber, onion, or cherry tomato (or just add them all!).
*to prep tomatoes: drop into simmering water for just a minute or until peel cracks, and then immediately move to cool water (my go-to implement for doing this: scissors-style salad tongs). When cool enough to handle, peel and squoosh seeds out with your finger into clean bowl. When all tomatoes are processed, pour and press bowl contents through sieve to get the 1 cup fresh juice.