When tomatoes are ripe try a colorful cold soup

Most likely the rich, velvety-smooth cold soup known as gazpacho would not be as popular if we still had to use mortar and pestle to make it. With a food processor or blender, it takes only a few minutes today. Even so, it's still best to hand-chop a few vegetables for garnish.

There are about 30 versions of this wonderfully cooling dish, including a white gazpacho made with blanched almonds, and a green version using green tomatoes and peppers.

Basic red is the most popular and it should be chilled several hours in advance for best results. Gazpacho 3 slices French bread 4 ripe tomatoes, peeled, chopped 1 cucumber, peeled, chopped 2 or 3 cloves garlic, peeled, chopped 2 medium green peppers, chopped 2 cups water 2 cups beef stock or broth 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar 3 tablespoons olive oil 1 tablespoon fresh basil, optional 2 teaspoons salt or to taste 1 green pepper, minced 1 large tomato, peeled, seeded, diced 1 cucumber, minced 1 cup garlic-flavored croutons

Combine ingredients listed down to and including salt. Let sit 1 hour, then puree in blender and chill. Serve very cold with chopped vegetable and croutons as condiments in separate bowls for self-service.

Extra ingredients for variation may include fresh basil, a teaspoon of ground cumin, toasted almonds, or yogurt instead of broth.

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